5 simple rules for becoming a great leader

Dr. Roger P. Levin
Dr. Roger P. Levin

What is leadership really all about? The truth is that there are 300-page textbooks, semester-long courses, and ultraexpensive business programs all about leadership. I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to many of these, and ultimately, I found that their complexity makes it almost impossible for an individual to use them to transform into a great leader. I’ve often wondered if people who teach leadership make it complex so that they can justify what they are doing. 

One of the most important business principles today is to create simplicity. Dental practices have become extraordinarily complex with rules, regulations, laws, technology, competition, labor, regulation, etc. In the face of growing complexity, the only solution is to become fanatical about simplicity, and leadership also falls into that category. The following five recommendations are simple. Every dentist or office manager can do them, and they will literally change the way you lead and help you to build a fantastic team. 

Five requirements for great leadership

Dr. Roger P. LevinDr. Roger P. Levin

1. Compassion

The new leader in practices today is compassionate. This is not to suggest that most dentists arent generally nice and pleasant.

However, a new level of compassion is needed to manage today’s team members and meet their needs and desires. If your first reaction is that you should not have to work so hard to meet their needs and desires, simply consider the current staffing shortage and increases in staffing compensation taking place across the entire dental profession.

Compassion involves collaborating with each team member to understand their individual needs at various times and how you can help them. Take the example of a team member asking for a day off. As a practice leader for 10 years, I understand how hard it is when someone simply needs a day off.

Our first reaction may be that they don’t really need a day off -- they have a terrible work ethic and not being here will make that day really hard. But the compassionate leader comes from a totally different perspective. They start by saying, "Maybe this person does need a day off, and we will find a way to work around it based on the culture that we have built as a team." It is not about being right or wrong as much as it is about working toward building a wonderful team.

2. Motivation

You don’t have to change your personality to be a motivator. Not everyone is an over-the-top extrovert who can motivate a stone when desired. But anyone can be more motivating. 

Taking time to make comments to team members about excellent performance, giving regular daily compliments, inspiring people with good stories and positive attitudes, talking positively and not negatively, reserving opinions about what is happening in the news, and focusing on providing feedback about how great the team is performing are all part of motivation.

There are also other strategies to motivate team members, such as bonus systems. Why not reward people for going above and beyond and beating goals? Just keep in mind before you can beat goals, you must have goals -- and that leads to the next leadership point.

3. Goal setting

Setting goals setting changes lives. Having mentored dentists, I have witnessed how goal setting improves their practices and lives rapidly. When you set goals, you become focused and learn to ignore everything that does not directly contribute to your goals.

In a dental office, the best way to set goals is with your team. When they’re part of the process, you get a higher level of commitment and buy-in. When people are part of the development, they become part of the desire to achieve a result, and you will build a fantastic team.

4. Honesty and transparency

Honesty and transparency are the new currency of leadership. Many dentists worry too much about how team members will react to certain information and either hold back, try to spin it, or don’t say anything at all. In today’s world, those are big negatives.

How many times have you watched the news, and some politician is explaining why something wasn’t so bad and you’re saying to yourself that this is all spin? That is something you want to remove from your day-to-day leadership. You may not always give the answer people want to hear or the news they were hoping for, but honesty and transparency go a long way toward building a fantastic practice.

5. Create a mission

As I mentioned above, people want to belong to something bigger than just themselves. They want to go to work to have fun, be part of a great culture, and know that they are supported in a team-based environment with a purpose.

Having team members understand that the practice exists to provide great patient care and regularly reminding them that they are an important part of achieving that mission creates a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging, which creates a great culture.


The five recommendations in this article are simple. Implement them and within months your practice will transform, the office culture will improve, staff attitudes will skyrocket, and you will be able to build a team that creates and maintains success! 

Dr. Roger P. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production.To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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