Breaking the Chairside Cycle

by Dr. Vicky Prokopiou

The Essential Role of Leadership and Team Mentoring in Dental Practice Growth

In our fast-paced world of dental practice ownership, many owners find themselves caught in a continuous cycle of chair-side duties, often overlooking the crucial role leadership and mentorship play in practice growth. This approach, while commendable for its dedication to patient care, can inadvertently stifle the practice’s potential fo expansion and improvement. The key to breaking this cycle lies in understanding the
transformative power of effective leadership and the strategic development of your team.

The Chair-side Paradox

Many dental practice owners pride themselves on their hands-on approach to patient care, believing that their direct involvement is paramount to the practice’s success. What about everything else that makes your business run? However, this chair-side dedication, although noble, limits the time and energy available for strategic planning, HR, team development, planning, scaling and leadership activities—essential components for sustainable growth.

The Leadership Imperative

Effective leadership in a dental practice goes beyond clinical expertise; it encompasses the ability to inspire, guide, and develop a cohesive team aligned with the practice’s vision and goals. Leadership is about setting a direction, creating a culture of continuous improvement, investing in your mentoring your team and empowering your team to take initiative and contribute to the practice’s success.

What if you knew your team’s natural talents and used these to maximise team performance and continued development? Imagine how much easier your role would be hen you lead a team that you know, rather than see as a separate entity to what you do in your practice. Most practice owners can’t see the bigger picture and may wonder why their team may have a high turnaround.

I’d like for you to ask yourself these questions.

What key qualities do you take into account when hiring your team? Do you base it on someone being likeable or someone who’s competent and has the right attitude to get the job done?

I encourage you to get curious and explore various tools like Gallup Strengths and various other personality assessments to understand the value your team members bring to your practice, both as individuals and as a collective.

Mentorship: The Growth Engine

Mentoring your team is not just about training them in the latest dental techniques and procedures; it’s about fostering an environment where learning, innovation, and teamwork thrive. When practice owners invest time in mentoring their team, they:

  • Encourage professional development, leading to improved patient care and service.
  • Build a sense of ownership among team members, motivating them to contribute actively to the practice’s growth.
  • Cultivate leadership skills within the team, ensuring the practice’s sustainability and resilience in the face of challenges.
  • Grow their team with complementing team members, not get to a point of desperation and hire just because they needed someone to start ASAP.
  • Support the needs of each individual and see areas of opportunity within the business.
Strategies for Effective Leadership and Mentorship

Delegate Clinical and Administrative Responsibilities: Empower your team by delegating tasks, allowing you to focus on strategic growth activities and mentorship. Leave micromanaging behind.

Implement Regular Training Sessions: Dedicate time for team training and development, covering both clinical skills and soft skills like communication, leadership, and problem-solving.

Foster a Culture of Open Communication: Encourage your team to share ideas, feedback, and concerns, creating a collaborative environment that nurtures innovation and improvement.

Lead by Example: Demonstrate the values, work ethic, and attitude you expect from your team. Your leadership sets the tone for the entire practice. What’s your leadership style?

The Reality of Practice Ownership and Shifting Your Awareness
To Your Team And Your Patients

Transitioning from a predominantly chair-side role to one of leadership and mentorship requires a shift in mindset and practice management. However, the benefits of this transition—enhanced team performance, improved patient care, and sustainable practice growth—far outweigh the challenges. By embracing your role as a leader and mentor, you pave the way for a future where your dental practice grow and scales.

Dental practice owners, it’s time to step away from the chair and step into your role as visionary leaders and mentors. Your practice’s growth and your team’s development depend on it. Your business depends on you.

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