Leadership: it’s not about you, it’s about them

Bhavna Doshi discusses her new book, which draws on extensive experience of the intersection between dentistry and business to explain how practice owners can excel in leadership.

Throughout my 30 years of business experience, in both my own companies and helping grow practice owners’ businesses, I became intrigued that the same questions kept popping up.

While many had really invested considerable time and effort into becoming good and strong leaders – socialising with their teams, awarding bonuses, promoting democracy, delegating or immersing themselves into leadership courses – the truth of the matter was that many still struggled to get their team to do the work they were ‘meant to do’ without having to oversee or micromanage them. And therein lies the issue!

The fact that a small business such as a dental practice offers the owner a tremendous insight into team and patient dynamics and provides a real opportunity to see what is going on at ground level can also make owners hypersensitive to any mismatch in motivation levels and vision-sharing amongst their team members. This can contribute to an unhealthy working environment.

If the leader finds their staff misaligned despite having tried ‘everything’, all parties can end up frustrated and stressed. Subsequently, they will not be in the best position to blossom within the workplace.

What leadership is not

Having spent my entire career in a variety of leadership positions and observing other dental leaders, I am more cognisant of owners falling into the pitfalls of what leadership is not.

Looking at business from the singular perspective of the owner’s point of view is a mistaken mindset, and I feel it is high time we change that erroneous thinking of it being all about the leader, when actually it should also be about the team. This ultimately creates the best optimal environment for all, including patients.

So, I have written a ‘one-stop’ book about leadership. In fact, I would rather call it a toolkit which systemises leadership, with actions the reader can take at the end of each chapter. It is not theoretical; it is a practical guide for success distilled into a formula that actually works.

I have tried and tested the actions over many years working with businesses across the healthcare sector (primarily dental, but also pharmaceutical and optical). My philosophy is win-win-win for the owner, team member and patient.

‘A positive team culture that is aligned with the business vision’

In my book, entitled Lead to Grow, I talk about establishing a positive team culture that is aligned with the business vision.

If practice owners can help their team members reach their best potential, they will feel psychologically, emotionally and physically safe. This will subsequently make them happier, more likely to initiate creativity and ultimately engender strong loyalty. This grounding needs to be put into place in any business to help move your business forward.

Team members need to understand what the leader wants and vice versa. The reality is that people learn or take action in different ways, and hence communication methods need to be adapted for comprehensive understanding.

It is the responsibility of the leader to figure this out so that the information on the business vision and tasks requested from them are fully understood.

Key questions for leadership

How many of you really know how your staff like to communicate? Do you really know if they have understood everything you say to them? Might they need any more information? Do they need more training? What do you know about them? Have they got any self-limiting beliefs? What do you know about their personal life that could impact work? Do you know how your team members can best work collaboratively and cohesively together?

The book is designed to give practice owners practical information which can be easily implemented. This will help them truly connect with their teams at a level which is reassuring and safe for them.

Simple things can make a huge difference. For example, creating organised communication structures, united values and systems, and alleviating fears and misconceptions. I have written the book from a clinician’s viewpoint, understanding what challenges my peers face on a daily basis. I have been there, too.

‘Deep-rooted values’

My mission with this book, which is published in June, is to bridge the gap between the focused self-motivated leader and team members who may have very different needs. It is about deep-rooted values which chime with you and with which you can align all team members.

The book is primarily aimed at leaders or people aspiring to a managerial position. But, anyone wanting to become an invaluable member of the team and encourage their leaders to collaborate way can benefit.

In parallel with this, I will continue working with more practices to fine-tune their leadership skills. Specifically, through an exclusive partnership collaboration with Philips. The company’s mission is to pioneer new breakthroughs as market leaders. This completely aligns with my philosophy of win-win-win aiming at patients, practices and teams altogether.

My book will be available on my website and on Amazon from June. I am excited to receive feedback from readers as they implement this new approach in their practices.

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