Do You Want to Become a Game Changing Practice Leader?

A leader’s primary function is to get things done through other people. Why are you in that role?  If you’re a practice manager, were you hired based on your skill level?  Maybe you’ve been in the dental field for 10 years and have worked your way up into management?

Did you know that 79% of practice owners say that they hire a practice manager based on experience in the industry.  But what happens?  Practice managers spend approx.. 80% of their time managing people vs. doing tasks. So, we hire people based on how well they can perform 20% of their job.  What about the other 80%?  Those tasks require people skills.  People skills are the foundation of any great leadership style.

A leadership style entails the patterns of behavior that are consistent across how you make decisions, interact with others, and use your time. It’s also characterized by how your colleagues would describe their working relationship with you.

Leadership style is something that is developed.  Either you’ve defined your leadership style or you’ve allowed someone else to define it.  Meaning that if you aren’t intentional in your leadership, you won’t be consistent.  If you aren’t consistent, you “manage situations” instead of managing the practice. 

At Team Culture Works, we use the DISC Communication Tool to measure a person’s leadership style.  If you haven’t taken a DISC Assessment, you are missing out on one of the most impactful ways you can lead others…. By treating them how THEY want to be treated, not how YOU want to be treated.  Because people won’t tell you how to manage them, the DISC tool measures it for you. A few DISC leadership examples are:

D’s are very “authoritarian”.  This type of leader is someone who is focused almost entirely on results and efficiency. They often make decisions alone or with a small, trusted group and expect employees to do exactly what they’re asked. It can be helpful to think of these types of leaders as military commanders.

I’s are visionary leaders.  They have the ability to drive progress and usher in periods of change by inspiring employees and earning trust for new ideas. A visionary leader is also able to establish a strong organizational bond. They strive to foster confidence among the team.

S’s are very democratic.  They ask for input and considers feedback from their team before making a decision. Because team members feel their voice is heard and their contributions matter, a democratic leadership style is often credited with fostering higher levels of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.

C’s are bureaucratic leaders. They expect their team members to follow the rules and procedures precisely as written. The bureaucratic leadership style focuses on fixed duties within a hierarchy where each employee has a set list of responsibilities, and there is little need for collaboration and creativity. This leadership style is most effective in highly regulated industries or departments, such as finance, healthcare or government.

None of these leadership styles are ideal for managing a dental practice, right?  However, if you could combine them into one whole management approach to both the team and the practice, that would be a great solution!  So, how do we do that?

The ideal management style in a dental practice is a “coaching style”.  This means you are someone who can quickly recognize their team members’ strengths, weaknesses and motivations to help each individual improve. This type of leader often assists team members in setting smart goals and then provides regular feedback with challenging projects to promote growth. They’re skilled in setting clear expectations and creating a positive, motivating environment regardless of the unique behavior style of the team.

Now the question becomes, how do we develop a coaching leadership style?  It starts with your mindset.  The first step in growing as a leader is to develop an unstoppable mindset.  You have to want to become a game-changer!

Are you “ALL IN” at work?  Of course, or you wouldn’t be learning right now.  But, All In goes beyond a quantity of work.  In a game changer’s world, it also applies to doing all that is possible to turn out the best work possible.  In other words, “good enough is never good enough.”  Your job description is three words…  “Whatever it takes.”  As the leader of the practice, you need to identify what needs to happen, devise your direction, and sustain your determination to ward off making excuses for not getting it done. 

In order to master the “ALL IN” mindset, you have to clear out the excuses that you may have told yourself so many times that by now, you believe them.  Things such as: 
“I do what I’m supposed to do.  I do my job.”  This means that you are choosing mediocrity and blaming it on someone else.

“I’ll do more when they pay me more.”  Let me tell you something…  To be capable of doing more, but then making a conscious decision not to, is just a sneakier, more creative way of quitting. 

“My boss doesn’t motivate me.”  I call this “stinkin’ thinkin’”.  You are responsible for your own motivation.

There are so many more excuses I’ve heard from practice managers.  Excuses are just a plea offered to explain fault or failure. Excuses make you common, average, ordinary…  but not a GAME CHANGER!

Be thankful that nobody has the power over your life to open your head, shove in a bad attitude, and leave you to suffer.  YOU get to choose your thinking, your attitude, and your behavior. 

Hold yourself accountable.  Have attitude, passion, and enthusiasm for success.  Those traits are an inside job. I promise your birth certificate doesn’t say, “She has a great attitude, tons of passion, and incredible enthusiasm for excellence.”  NO!  These are learned skills.      


What does a game changing practice leader look like?  How do they think? 

Game changers realize they are not victims of circumstances.  They are products of their own decisions, their own choices.  This is great news because guess what it means?  That YOU are in charge of YOUR destiny.  Decisions are within your control regardless of the conditions in which you find yourself. 

So, what do we need to do to become a game changer?  Develop the mindset to make the right choices in any given situation.

Earlier we said that game changers have a positive attitude, passion, and enthusiasm for their work, right?  I want to make something very clear.  That DOES NOT mean that game changers are perfect or never have a bad day.  We all get off track.  A game changer just gets back on the track quicker than most people because we understand that we decide when to turn it around and get back on the right path. 

Game changers think differently.  They develop an I OWN IT philosophy towards work.  Some examples are:

Instead of ‘Look what you did to me’ you think ‘Look what I did to myself’. 

Instead of ‘I feel like I’m always under attack.’ You think ‘My team is continually challenging me to be stronger and better.’

Folks, this is a super important lesson.  Your attitude determines your success… not your skills, knowledge, age, or ethnicity. 

Your mindset drives your attitude, attitude drives your choices, choices drive your results, and results drive your success.  So, if you aren’t succeeding you need to look at your mindset.

I want to leave you with a quote by Vince Lombardi: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

To learn more about training your team to communicate more effectively and eliminate toxic conflict, contact me today at or 214-755-0955.  For more information about our team culture training solutions, visit

About the Author…

Tracy Civick is a speaker, author, and coach who focuses on strengthening corporate culture, empowering teams to practice effective communication, and creating profitable workplace environments.  With over a decade of development experience creating unity, compassion, and success, Tracy has a passion for teaching individuals how to elevate themselves both personally and professionally. 

Published by Team Culture Works

We teach teams how to use DISC COMMUNICATION tools to improve communication, eliminate gossip at work, and increase productivity.

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