How to Conquer Leadership Challenges

Young-Dentist_WebfileIt’s always great to hear about young dentists starting their practice, establishing a new partnership, or purchasing an existing practice.  While some dentists are more comfortable with embracing the change and smoothly transition into their new roles, others have difficulties. Sometimes it’s hard being the new kid in town or one of the youngest members of your staff. Let’s face it; some people make the assumption that with youth comes lack of experience and regretfully, that can translate into a lack of respect. If you are a young dentist or new partner, it can take some time to establish your role of authority with another staff member who may have been around for 15+ years. Here are a few tips to consider for taking the lead:

  • Promote A Respectful Work Environment
    • Always handle yourself in a positive manner; set the standard and hold all members of staff to it.
    • Ensure that you and your partner(s) are on the same page before taking action on employee relation issues. All partners need to be willing and committed to making changes if the current staff cannot handle their positions. Without a mutual understanding, your attempts at change will be tested.
    • When dealing with contentious issues, prepare yourself before approaching, it will allow you to have a clear mind and better handle any backlash.
  • Establish Yourself in a Position of Authority
    • People will only treat you how you allow them to, so grab the bull by the horn and take ownership of your role. If you plan to grow with the practice and eventually become the owner, it’s never too early to start acting in the best interest of YOUR practice.
    • Managing a staff of people who are older than you can be challenging, however, stand your ground is a respectful manner.
  • Be specific when addressing employees
    • Broad or general statements give the employee room to come up with an excuse
    • Ensure manuals are updated and all staff members are aware of their role and responsibilities in the practice.
  • Hold Employees Accountable
    • Review the portions of his or her job duties that are crucial steps in office operations
    • For example, if an employee is consistently failing to update health charts, have a direct conversation with that individual. Address that you have observed the job was not being done, stress the importance of the task to the patient’s safety and express that the problem will not be tolerated is no corrected. After all, patient’s safety is a top priority.

These tips are to get you started. We also recommend you doing some research on management styles and tackling leadership roles. For more information and articles on practice management, visit our blog page at