The Four Universal Promises of Leadership - Part 2

June 18, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced you to a discussion about leadership and four universal promises of leadership. My next goal is to discuss the first of four universal promises of leadership.

The First Universal Promise

You will set the right direction and create meaningful work.

Each of us needs structure to live and lead effectively. Setting the right direction requires you to be clear on what your destination is. What story do you want your life and your life’s work to tell? Is it a story worth telling? Will it inspire other people to want to go with you? What will it take to get there? How and where do you start?

Clarity Will Transform You

The structure of destination and meaning comes from your vision, mission and values. Your vision is critical to communicate a clear picture of your destination. Your mission is critical to understanding what you must overcome and connecting each person’s role to it. Values guide us from deep within.

The process of clarifying your vision, mission and values sets into motion self and organizational transformation.

Your vision transforms you into an Inspiration Maker.

Your mission transforms you into a Meaning Maker.

Your values transform you into a Behavior Maker.

Vision is the inspiration maker for the organization. It is the destination that the organization is traveling to. Jason Bourne’s vision was to get his identity back from the evil CIA unit that stole his identity. His mission was the very dangerous actions that he had to undertake in order to get rid of the bad guys and get to the truth.

Mission is the meaning maker for the organization…It is about the conflicts, barriers, and work that must be overcome to reach the destination. In a Nike commercial, the athletes are pushing their physical limits in training (Mission) to become a champion (Vision).

Values are the rules of behavior for everyone in the organization, including the leader. They are the boss. When anyone violates the values that they have agreed to, it becomes obvious to all. The leader makes himself/herself accountable to the team and asks for them to confront him/her if he/she violates them. Values are grounded in our most deeply held beliefs and often integrated to the framework of our faith.

In other words, vision-mission-values are for the benefit of the organization. And, yes, the leader must become them as well.

When your vision, mission and values saturate your organizational culture, you begin to enjoy the rewards of that effort. The shared mental model provides structure for thinking with one mind, speaking with one voice, and feeling with one heart. Your energy and effort are channeled into one powerful coherent force that is aligned at all levels and moving in the direction of your destination.

After Action Reviews

Here’s an example of how in my dental practice we routinely review whether we are on course to our destination in alignment with our values. Recently, in our morning huddle today, we did an After Action Review (ARR) of our performance as a team on the previous afternoon. It was a routinely busy day that got pushed in the last two hours with several important emergency appointments.

An AAR examines the performance of the entire team and asks key questions:

What did we intend to do?
What did we actually do?
What were the results?
What would we do next time?
Were our actions consistent with our values?

I started the discussion. Quickly, several key team members expressed their thoughts and emotions that our performance as a team did not produce the results that we want and were not consistent with “Who We Are” and “Who We Hope to Be” at our best. It was a difficult but very productive conversation…and I think essential to creating better future performance.

These kinds of conversations invite every team member to have a voice in the critical moments of how we perform as a team, which increases the meaning of their work and recognizes the value of their contributions. It also allows us to evaluate if our behavior and performance as a team is moving the practice in the direction of our vision. Clarity wins. These conversations clarify.

Until next week and Part 3

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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Perseverance

December 16, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

According to Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, he had to rewrite his book 150-200 times until he was happy with it. And he began by imagining the end of the story, then the beginning, then the chapter headings, then the writing…over and over again. In the end, Markus had a New York Times Best Seller, with 8,000,000 million copies sold and a movie deal. 

One might be tempted to view Markus Zusak as an overnight success but knowing what I have just told you allows you to understand that’s not the truth.

So too is the case with relationship-based/health-centered dentistry. The creation of the practice takes years, starting much like Zusak’s book—beginning with the end in mind. From there, each aspect is assembled from finding and forming the right care team, to developing them, and to finding better and better ways to connect with patients: truly hearing them, understanding their struggles, and sensing their desire to feel better about themselves. 

Along the way, you will make mistakes, have misunderstandings, and outright fail. This will prompt you to rethink, revise, and redo. This is the true nature of success. We learn and move upward with better understanding. 

It has been said that the main difference between a vision and a dream is the work involved.

The later requires none. The former’s work never ends. A true vision is a principle-centered thought capsule aching to be validated by reality. It has an inherent truth built into it which must be realized. And as with Zusak, if it takes 200 revisions to make it happen, then it takes 200 revisions. So be it! 

The simple secret to success is the willingness to be flexible and to accommodate new understandings combined with a sheer force of will and perseverance that only a few are willing to make. 

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Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Back on Track with “The Three Vs”

June 20, 2019 Robert Maguire, DDS, MASCL

Dentists in private practice face a myriad of uncomfortable problems that force us to find solutions or… S L O W L Y burn out. Do any of these resonate with you?

  • Ineffective marketing for attracting the type of new patients you need and want
  • Interpersonal problems among some team members
  • Difficulty budgeting for and incorporating new technology you want to embrace
  • Lack of energy to monitor your practice systems and staff
  • Insufficient time for yourself and your family
  • Overall fatigue

Hark, the Mind!

Often times, the problems we face in our practices are the result of our own “stinking thinking.”

I recently retired at age 60 after practicing for 28 years as a solo practitioner in Wolfeboro, NH. Over the years, I went through my fair share of issues but found a way to thrive with the influence of programs like The Pankey Institute and Dawson Academy. I focused on developing deep relationships with my patients and team. So, when I say your life and your practice will be more productive and fun when you live your life in alignment with your Values, your Vision, and your Voice, I speak from experience.

To makeover your “thinking,” you’ll need to engage you mind and consider these three Vs.

Values – Exercises 1-3

Values are the non-negotiables in our lives. These are the things that are most meaningful to us, things we would “go to the mat for.” They are personal and unique for each of us, for example, honesty, integrity, transparency, spending time with family, etc. Some practice values might include technical excellence, timeliness, cleanliness, appreciation, efficiency, scheduling sufficient time for conversations with patients, and fiscal responsibility.

So why are values so important? When violated, our personal and practice lives will be “out of whack.” Frustration, anger, helplessness, and despair are some emotions we might feel. So, start with Exercise 1.

  • Exercise 1. Take an inventory of your values. Make a list of what’s most important to you, as many as come to mind. Then choose your top ten and prioritize them. Once you know what’s most important to you, figure out the steps you need to take to make them a reality.
  • Exercise 2. Do Exercise 1 with your team. Have them each identify and prioritize their own personal values.
  • Exercise 3. Combine your findings and do the same exercise with your team to identify your shared practice values. This exercise alone will propel you and your team forward towards a more fun and productive workplace.

Vision – Exercise 4

Once you and your team know what you value the most, write out the vision for your dental practice. As you write out your practice vision statement, think about how you want to practice and what the ideal team member looks like. Think about your practice setting and how you want to relate to your patients. Get a clear picture in your mind, write it down, and then communicate it. You should be able to articulate it clearly and succinctly if someone asks you, “What is the vision for your practice?” Stating your practice vision should be as automatic as breathing.

Voice – Exercise 5

When you know who you are (your values) and how you want to live (your vision), your thinking changes­­–and with it your voice. Your words and actions will become authentic, intentional, and magnetic. Patients will be attracted to you and your staff because you are “the real deal.”

A “Magic” Process

The five steps to establishing your three Vs compose a highly effective process that bonds team members and clarifies a common direction for your team, as well as your office systems. Many times, we are tempted to evaluate and make changes in office systems when we are faced with problems. What I learned is that, as you strive for more happiness, more joy, and more financial success, looking at “The Three Vs” first, before looking at the office systems, is optimal. In my practice life, we took a fresh look at our three Vs frequently.

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Robert Maguire, DDS, MASCL

Dr. Maguire is a Navy Veteran who got his D.D.S. degree from Georgetown University School of Dentistry in 1984. He completed Bachelor of Arts at the University of New Hampshire in 1980 and Master of Arts Degree in Strategic Communication and Leadership at Seton Hall University in 2009. He was a former president of the New Hampshire Dental Society from 2014 to 2015. Dr. Maguire is a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists. He is also a member of the American Dental Association and the New Hampshire Dental Society. Early in his career, Dr. Maguire became an avid student of both the Dawson Center and the Pankey Institute, completing all of their week-long continuums. It was the "Pankey Philosophy" that inspired him to continually develop his technical and communication skills. In addition to these credentials, he is also a certified trainer for the DISC Personality Assessment Tool. Dr. Maguire specializes in teaching others to be effective communicators (www.dynamicdentalcomm.com). Dr. Maguire recently retired at age 60 after practicing for 28 years as a solo practitioner in Wolfeboro, NH. He attributes his success to the deep relationships he made with his patients and team. His practice thrived without the influence of PPOs or Premiere programs with set fees.

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4 Cornerstones of Successful Dentistry: Clinical Services & Patient Care

January 19, 2018 Mary Osborne RDH

Success in dentistry centers on four cornerstones that focus both externally and internally. Though they provide a clear foundation, of course every dentist and dental team will have a different sense of how to measure their success.

Part of what makes your practice unique are the standards you set in each of the four cornerstones: Clinical Services, Patient Care, Team Participation, and Practice Growth and Development.

In this blog, I’ll discuss the first two cornerstones and in Part 2 I’ll discuss the final two essential pieces of the practice puzzle. Together, they create a critical balance, especially in how they interact dynamically.

Cornerstones of Dentistry: Clinical Services and Patient Care

Clinical Services

Each dentist will have their own individual sense of what services they wish to provide and how they want to structure their practice system. With this kind of freedom, the clinician decides what standards of care are enforced and how they are applied to practice services.

Part of why dentistry is such an exciting and opportunity-filled profession is that this kind of flexibility exists. You can say what matters to you and design a practice that embraces your values. You are the only one who can determine your level of commitment.

Patient Care

It’s up to you how you will care for your patients. You are able to pursue aspirational paths of continuing to seek education, empowering yourself and others, and partnering with your patients and team.

You can also guide your patients and support them in reaching the highest levels of health they can. Along with your freedom to set standards for yourself, you can also decide how much trust you will share with your patients. Then, you can create relationships built on that degree of trust.

To be continued…

How do you define your values and vision in your dental practice? 

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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Practicing Dentistry Your Way

December 4, 2017 Lee Ann Brady DMD

One of the gifts of dentistry is that we get to drive our vision and create the practice that engages and fulfills us. There are really very few professions with such limitless possibilities.

If you dream about working three days a week, you can create that. If you want to work from 7-3 or 3-10 you can. Do you love doing endo procedures? Then you can do them. If you dislike doing pediatric dentistry, then you can choose to refer it all out.

How to Practice Dentistry in a Way That Fulfills You

There is no one way to practice dentistry. This is an incredible gift and for me makes dentistry one of the best professions. Having this amount of choice also comes with some challenges and responsibilities.

The first challenge is accepting the gift of choice. Dentistry is full of outside pressures that can drive how we practice if we choose to let them. These pressures may come from other members of our team, other dentists we know, insurance carriers, or our own beliefs.

Along with choice comes the responsibility for choices, their execution, and their outcomes. Creating the practice you dream about may not happen overnight. It will require a thoughtful plan and the commitment to execute it, but it is within your reach.

The place to start is to allow yourself to dream and dream big. Walk on the beach, find a quiet space, and just let go of the constraints of how things are now. Imagine what it would look like to practice dentistry and LOVE it.

As you imagine this preferred future, tap into your emotions. If you find yourself excited, energized, and propelled to action, then this is the path to start to walk down. Refrain from asking yourself “How” you will create it.

Once you have a vision for how you want to practice, now it is time to ask the “how” question and remember anything is possible. The question is what will it take to create it. Begin with a timeline and ask yourself how long from now you want to have the practice you just dreamed about.

On the right hand side of the timeline is that preferred future. On the left hand side is today and how things look today. Then work backwards from the future and place milestones in time and change along the way.

Remember, for everything you want, there will be something to give up or some cost, but it is possible!

How have you designed or wanted to design your dream practice? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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How to Revitalize Your Practice Vision

November 17, 2017 Mary Osborne RDH

Solving common problems in the dental practice is all about mindset. Solutions tend to come from a better inherent understanding of your practice’s values and vision. Clarity of vision makes problems simpler. Thus, one powerful way to use your vision is to make it the basis for how you practice. But first, you must revitalize or find it through a model such as the Appreciative Inquiry Model.

Revitalize and Problem Solve in Your Practice

Part of the problem solving process is finding the disconnect between what you say and what you do. Problems can be worsened if something is clear for the dentist and not for the team.

Vision is the life-blood of a practice. It is the dream that feels within reach, that is worked toward because it is understood to be achievable. So how do you figure out what yours is?

Using the Appreciative Inquiry Model

A problem solving model is not your friend in searching for a viable vision. Why is this? Problem solving models start by identifying a problem and analyzing it. This is then used to guide action.

The flaw in this seemingly sensible model is that it begins from a place of ‘wrongness’ or ‘missing.’ Instead, it is more productive to focus on what is currently good about what you have and how you can enhance it. This a subtle shift in perspective and mindset that sets the tone of the ‘problem-solving’ conversation.

What I’ve just described is known as the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Model. It begins with appreciation and valuing what is, then transitions to envisioning what might be, and concludes with a dialogue about what should be.

The envisioning portion is all about considering values, vision, and vitality. You look forward, not backward, because that is the best way to deliberately stumble upon a new or more inspiring vision.

What gives your practice life? It would be difficult to find out by focusing on the negatives. There is a kind of magic to looking around with fresh eyes and realizing the positive attributes you already possess.

AI enables you to ask what you want, rather than what you don’t want. It focuses on building from a foundation you already have, so that you are not resource poor, but in fact capable of changing based on the abundance you already contain.

What is your practice vision and how did you come to it? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

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Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

The purpose of this course is to help you develop mastery with complex cases involving advanced restorative procedures, precise sequencing and interdisciplinary coordination. Building on the learning in Essentials Three…

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About Author

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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Envisioning Your Dream

November 13, 2017 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Part of knowing yourself is knowing what you want. Is what you want crystal clear to you? Does it inspire you to action? Is it a powerful enough motivator that it can survive the resistance you will encounter in your pursuit of it? Do the people around you know what you want and why it is important to you?

These questions are just the beginning. They are also essential if you are going to move in the direction of your dreams.

Envisioning Your Dream

If you are not moving and seem stuck, then a powerful vision of your dream is both a requirement and a determinant. It is the spark to start your engine. Most of us struggle to gain a distinct understanding of what we truly want at any level, but especially at the deepest level.

A blind person wants to see. A lame person wants to walk. A person in pain wants comfort. There are no competing agendas nor is there any confusion about what is most important to them. That is what I mean by clarity and passion for the cause.

Leadership & Influence

Leadership is about influence. The most important person you will ever lead is yourself. You are influencing yourself 24/7/365. Knowing yourself and taking every thought captive toward becoming what you were meant to become is the most powerful weapon that you have. Use it.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Here are several:

1. Reflect on what you would be doing with your life and career, if you knew that you couldn’t fail. Do whatever it takes to get into the mindset to let go and believe.

2. Secure the best expertise that you can find. Build a relationship of trust and intimacy with mentors. Begin a very detailed and guided examination of yourself. Listen, observe, and experience what happens to you in this process.

3. Trust yourself. Act on what you discover. Do it again.

4. Contact me and we will celebrate your successes!

This post is a continuation of the leadership conversation I started in my previous blog. Check it out here.

Related Course

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DATE: May 1 2025 @ 8:00 am - May 4 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 39

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Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (Per Night): $ 345

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

Learn More>

About Author

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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