Are you an enabler or a blocker?

Barrier smallPractice Plan’s Amy D’Arcy-Burt asks, when it comes to your dental practice – are you standing in the way of progress?

Over the years there has been one quote that has always struck a chord with me. The quote is from Film Director Woody Allen, who said; ‘70% of success is showing up’. In other words, if you’re prepared to put yourself forward and try things, good things generally follow.
Whilst out and about visiting my dental practices, it has occurred to me that this idea seems to be becoming more and more relevant. Of course, the opposite of this quote suggests that those people who fail, do so because they don’t step up to the plate.

Spend to benefit

To put that into the context of dental practices, I see practices who want to drive up referrals but fail to ask for them or hand our referral cards; practices who want to attract new patients, but don’t want to invest any money or resources into doing so; even practices who want to convert more treatment plans into actual treatment, but either don’t follow them up, shy away from patient finance or taking the time to explain the treatment plans in layman’s terms to their patients.

In fact, across the country there will be practices who are well aware of the theory, perhaps even been on a course, but who, for some reason, are unable to commit to putting it into practice.

So the real question is why?

On one side we may have a principal dentist/business owner who wants to achieve more and get more from his/her team. On the other, a team with ideas on how this can be achieved and the willingness to get things done. Yet, for some reason, there is a problem. An element such as lack of commitment, investment or trust in the team to deliver the desired results. I often hear comments along the lines of…‘we know what needs to be done, but [insert name of principal here] won’t listen or let us get on and do it!’

And I witness a very frustrating environment and unproductive way of working for all those involved. This then highlights that the leader of the business is becoming a big part of the problem, not supporting the solution. So for me, I can’t help but think that most of the time it comes down to leadership…or rather, the lack of it.

So my tip would be this, if you want to break out of this situation then you need to understand the fundamental difference between leadership and management.Leadership is about setting a direction, creating the big picture and then creating a culture and an environment that provides the means, the space and the guidance for people to perform to their best potential.

Management is about the day-to-day implementation of the plan and the delivery of a set of agreed objectives. Very often, this involves managing upwards to the principal as well as to the rest of the team. And that’s where the problem lies. So many principals refuse to be ‘managed’ for the good of the business and insist on ignoring the positive offers of help from their team.

If you are a principal or business owner, take a moment and think, when it comes to the business development and growth of your practice, are you an enabler or blocker? Are you leading from the front, creating an environment where people can come to work and make a positive impact on the business, or are you unconsciously limiting the potential of your team and your practice?


Amy D’Arcy-Burt is a regional support manager at Practice Plan, providing patient membership plans to dental practices, as well as business advice and support for the long term.

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