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Inspired Leadership Leads to Inspired Healthcare

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In dentistry and healthcare generally, the reassurance, clarity, and inspiration a practice leader can offer plays a major part in the everyday operation of the practice.

Ron Holder

COO, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)

With healthcare turnover at nearly the same level it reached during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare executives have all the more reason to find ways of promoting satisfying work conditions and giving their very best to their teams.

Inspiring leadership starts with an axiom: positions of power exist to help others work better, not to aggrandize those with the power. There is a distinct note of service and humility in the styles of the best managers. Although leaders, especially the newly promoted, may feel the urge to take an authoritarian approach with their personnel, this detracts from their effectiveness. Respect cannot be compelled — it must be earned over time. Instead of demanding obedience, a good leader tends to listen, form connections, and pay close attention to the strengths of team members in order to deploy them where they are most likely to succeed.

As an offshoot of their duty to create structure, purpose, and harmony within their organizations, it falls on healthcare practice leaders to find out which forms of communication resonate most with different team members. No two people absorb or filter information the same way. Effective leaders usually address this challenge by altering their communication to suit others’ preferences rather than expecting the opposite. This requires a certain level of expressive versatility, but that quality can be sharpened by training, and the result is a practice where workers feel respected and understood by their management.

Contributing to larger outcomes

Because leadership affords a birds-eye view of an organization, a healthcare practice leader also has the chance to show workers how their individual roles contribute to larger outcomes, such as patient well-being, that are central to the practice’s mission and values. Providing this sense of meaning, this “why,” can mean the difference between a professional who feels fulfilled in their work and one who does not.

Finally, a fundamental leadership lesson, echoed in my own executive career, is the importance of investing in oneself. When we first assume a leading role, many of us confront problems by working more and more, taking on more and more responsibility. That is a recipe for burnout, inefficiency, and alienation from your team. I believe a better approach would be to invest in your own skills, as a recent MGMA poll shows 46% of healthcare leaders do, so that each of your efforts can have a greater impact without requiring a greater input of energy. Over time, the benefits of this investment outstrip anything you can achieve by simply increasing volume of work.

Do not underestimate how much a good healthcare manager can affect their organization. In factors all the way from team spirit to billing accuracy, the cues come from the top. By committing to insightful communication, giving professionals the opportunity to display their strengths, and giving themselves the training they need, practice leaders can set the stage for better workplaces and better work.

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