Develop Six Essential Leadership Skills for Dental Practice Success

Roger P. Levin, DDS


Leadership has been made far too complex when it is rather simple to understand. In fact, when you really examine the skills of leadership, they are quite easy to comprehend. It’s the implementation that creates challenges because that’s when human meets human, and human interaction can be complicated. All leaders can use six key skills to improve their performance.

Believe in a Better Future

The first skill that every leader should master is being a believer in a bright future for the practice. This is important because when you share your belief about a better future, it creates a vision that your team can latch onto and gives them a higher sense of purpose for coming to work.

When people have a sense of purpose, they tend to focus less on themselves and more on what must be accomplished. Talking regularly about how you see the future and what it means to the practice will help inspire the team and reduce conflict.

Communicate Regularly With Your Team

Practices that don’t have regular staff meetings are making a big mistake. Staff meetings are a great opportunity to bring everyone together. I suggest starting each meeting by having each person share something good happening in their lives. This is how you get to know people better, develop compassion and understanding, and create a more positive environment.

But keep in mind, staff meetings aren’t enough. Doctors and/or office managers should have short one-on-one meetings with team members. If your practice is experiencing tough times, you may need to meet every two weeks. If times are more normal, the meeting interval could be every eight weeks. Whatever the interval, you’ll find that team members begin to develop certain ideas and thoughts that they specifically want to share during their one-on-one meeting.

Be Open and Transparent

Doctors often feel they must be like superheroes and not reveal themselves. If you’re thinking of new ideas, facing a challenge, or concerned about something or someone, share it with your team. The best teams will surround and protect leaders if, and only if, they know what is going on.

If the practice needs to perform better, share it with the team. If the practice is doing great but you’re concerned about a downturn, share it with the team. If something is going on outside of the office that is creating a challenge and it’s not too private, share it with the team.

Go Out of Your Way to Help the People You Lead

Your team may need training, guidance, coaching, mentoring, or even some short-term financial support. These are the people who got you where you are today. If you have a solid team member who has worked every day to help improve the practice and follow the principles that have been created, then go out of your way to help that person if you can. They will highly appreciate your generosity, and you’ll always have their loyalty for stepping in when they needed help.

Create Positive Emotions by Being Positive

Every day, the leader has one job, and that job is to inspire everyone else. This should not be an occasional act that is only done when you think of it, like sharing an inspirational quote you found. It’s an all day, everyday thing. Habitually complimenting the team, recognizing good work, and demonstrating appreciation can have an amazing impact.

We have all heard true stories of teachers who made one comment to change the trajectory of a student’s life, inspiring that student to go on and do something great for society. You may not be looking to change the trajectory of someone’s life, but you can change the trajectory of a day by making the day positive for everyone around you. Always keep in mind that positive creates positive.

Let the Team Know When the Practice Is Doing Well

Dentists don’t hesitate to let people know when they make a mistake or when something was done wrong. But we often forget to let people know when things are going well. This is different than complimenting an individual staff member. This is making sure the team is updated each month at the staff meeting about practice performance.

I am frequently asked if practices should share practice numbers with the team, as if they don’t have a sense of them anyway. Of course, we should share numbers with the team. This is how dentists, as leaders, create a strong commitment from the staff. You don’t have to share your doctor salary, but you should definitely share practice performance, production, and revenue. If you don’t, you’re asking your team to not only work blind, but be blind.

Your Turn

Gradually, using these leadership techniques will help your team transform into a powerful force with a sense of purpose that will create increased practice production and decrease practice stress.

Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

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