#19 – Baldrige Principle – Leadership

Dentists are not trained in Leadership. They are trained for 4 years to perform the various difficult, intricate, and detail skills of their profession. In fact, if you had an honest, heart-to-heart discussion with most dentists, they would confess that they don’t want to put their time or money into learning these skills and they are right! Their clients are better off if they focus on improving their skills to become better dentists.

That’s great for their clients, but it puts these dentists’ staff in a bad position. They usually ignore the staff’s emotional signals and tell them what to do between patients – and by the end of the day they are so tired, the last thing they want to do is sit down for a ½ hour career building conference with a staff member.

Here, our vision is:

In order to achieve this vision, our mission is:


Leadership is the first of the 7 sections of the Baldrige application.  Today’s leaders are not the top down “do what I tell you or you’re fired” type.  Today’s dental leaders

  • Have a vision that drives the organization
  • Makes sure the entire organization knows and believes the vision
  • All decisions help reach the vision
  • Know we are in the people business doing dentistry
  • Everyone is considered to be a leader in certain situations
  • Consider the needs of everyone involved before making a decision
  • Develop leadership skills among dentists and staff
  • Establishes a continuous learning system for the staff
  • “Walk the talk”
  • Develop systems that track many statistics and use these numbers to make decisions
  • All systems are periodically reviewed for improvement
  • All decisions meet established legal, ethical, and moral standards
  • Support staff involvement in their communities
  • All decisions should improve value to our clients
  • Future focused
  • Change is expected and encouraged
  • Performance measurements focus on key results
  • Bring enthusiasm, joy, happiness and fun to our practice

Here are concepts that are basic to our practice:

  1. Dentistry is less a technical science and more a behavioral science.  We may work on teeth/gums, but only when our clients open their mouths.
  2. People skills are critical to our success.  A staff member’s basic people skills develop by the time they are 18.  Education, training, and experience can help, but you won’t create huge changes.
  3. The ability to develop helping relationships with others is also developed by the time a staff member is 18 and also can be influenced later, but not basically changed.
  4. “Just in time” learning, where staff learn what they want to know when they want to know it is ideal.  We will try not to ask staff to learn things just for the sake of knowing it.
  5. The better trained the staff, the more responsibilities they can assume the higher they will be paid and the better people we can attract into a career in dentistry.

Answer these questions on a 1-10 scale (10 being the best)

____ 1.  Staff know our vision

____ 2.  Our dentists and team leaders use our vision when making decisions.

____ 3.  Our leaders do their best to make our office a good place to work.

____ 4.  Our leaders share enough information so you know what’s going on.

____ 5.  Our leaders promote staff continuing education and career growth.

____ 6.  Our leaders have a plan to improve and you know what it is.

____ 7.  You are asked what you think and your ideas are used.

____ 8.  How effectively do we help support our local communities.

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