Meet Women in Dentistry speaker René Johnson

2016 02 25 16 38 43 264 Women In Dentistry 200

Facing increased competition and fast-paced lifestyles, women dentists struggle now more than ever, balancing home life and lessening the stress of growing their practices, says certified empowerment coach René Johnson.

Johnson, who started as a dental assistant 30 years ago, now heads Power Zone Coaching and is among the speakers at the upcoming 2016 Women in Dentistry conference in Park City, UT. She also helped design the ADA's online continuing education series for leadership development.

Developing a "leadership voice"

To successfully juggle the demands of work and family life without feeling like a hamster in a wheel, women dentists need to realize that their businesses should be "vehicles" that serve them by supporting their purpose and passions, Johnson said.

René Johnson is an author and certified empowerment coachRené Johnson is an author and certified empowerment coach

"This starts with claiming your personal leadership voice and value," Johnson told "Lessening stress while growing your business actually go hand in hand."

Leadership is a decision more than it is a position, she said.

"This stems first from deciding what kind of leader you want to be in your life," Johnson said. "Your leadership voice in your business will represent what your comfort zone is made up of -- lower beliefs, expectations, weak boundaries, blind spots -- and you'll play down to these in your business."

Johnson works to help business owners leave their comfort zones, while embracing the necessary risks to reach their "power zones." This enables people to take control of their businesses, while inspiring others to reach goals.

"If you're going to be a leader in your business, you have to be able to inspire and inspire changes," Johnson said. "You have to empower other people and lead that growth, and that requires courage."

It takes courage to be a great leader, which is based on claiming your own voice and value, she noted.

"The decision to be a leader starts with you first," Johnson said. "If you do that and then design your life and your business to support your life, things start to really click. If you're not really clear on your vision for your life and business, then you can't constantly step up and say, 'This is how I want to play.' "

Overcoming myths

Busy business owners often forget about personal development and the need to continue growth and learning, Johnson said.

Many think that that to be successful, you have to have all the answers.

"That is a myth," she said. "When you're a successful woman leader in dentistry, then you understand what your value is and what your gifts are, and you're not trying to convince others with that assertive, aggressive side."

This approach enables more collaboration and being open to new ideas, she noted.

"You can stand clear and know that you are confident, then you can filter all other the other ideas and agendas and decide what's best for you," Johnson said.

One of the key things she teaches women leaders and tries practice herself is creating opportunities to work with like-minded people, allowing herself to be supported and mentored.

"When you elevate your thinking and your energy, you create positive accountability to fulfill your passions and play in your power zone and that's through mentorship -- giving and receiving," Johnson explained. "But if you're wearing that mask of confidence and you have to know it all, you can't go outside and get help. It's such a burden, and I can't tell you how many women wear that myth."

More women leaders

Time constraints, usually involving family responsibilities, prevent many women from rising to leadership positions in the ADA and other dental associations, Johnson said. Another big issue is that many women don't feel worthy of such roles.

"I think it comes from our culture," she said. "Women in general seem to be fighting to prove themselves,"

“Women in Dentistry's unique forum creates opportunity to discuss trends and hear what's most important to women in dentistry while creating community.”
— René Johnson.

Ambitious women can also be ultracompetitive, often to their detriment.

"We're an interesting breed as women," Johnson noted. "We love collaborating and nurturing each other and all those kind of engaging things. But we're also highly competitive with each other. I wish we were better about being less competitive and know that when you're being your authentic powerful self, there's no competition."

Another obstacle holding many women back is that they often feel unqualified or incapable of assuming leadership roles.

"That feeling of [being] not worthy or not deserving or not capable -- all those lower expectations of ourselves -- it holds women back," Johnson said.

She stressed the importance of another leadership quality: empathy.

"Sometimes you have to meet people where they're at to get them where you want to go and not take it so personally," Johnson advised.

Being well-grounded in your own values and the direction of your life and business makes you less competitive and more receptive, she said.

"People start to melt around you in a positive way. I've seen it, where their walls come down, and they start to become open and receptive to collaborate," Johnson recalled. "As women, when we let those walls down, we're phenomenal collaborators. We can elevate together, and there's room for all of us to rise."

By eschewing the competitive nature of men in business, women can allow more collaboration, she said.

"Women in Dentistry's unique forum creates opportunity to discuss trends and hear what's most important to women in dentistry while creating community," Johnson said. "Coming together and supporting each other is so important. We don't have as many opportunities as women in dentistry to create community, and I think we really need to do that."

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