July 1, 2021

Characteristics of Reactive Thinkers
The 80% we have been discussing share the following behaviors, and the dental office leader can begin to plan positive change with a basic recognition of them. Reactive thinkers:

  1. Are resistant to change
  2. See reasons they cannot do things
  3. Focus on finding problems to fix
  4. Avoid blame or responsibility
  5. Tend to be poor listeners
  6. Are devastated by failure
  7. Have low self-esteem
  8. Do things right

Characteristics of Creative Thinkers
Creative thinkers, the “20%”, share the following characteristics. They:

  1. Are open to change
  2. Are “can-do” oriented
  3. Take responsibility for their actions
  4. Are good listeners
  5. Learn and grow from their mistakes
  6. Have high self-esteem.
  7. Do the right things.

The new dental leader’s job is to bring out the best in people. Since attitude is so critical for the practice’s success, it is essential for dentists to understand what keeps their team members from choosing an attitude which is best for the practice. Most all the evidence now focuses on the individual’s self-image or self- esteem as the key factor in forming attitudes. How we perceive ourselves, and how we believe others perceive us, defines our self image.

What Can the New Dental Leader Do?
The new dental leader must first realize that 80% of the team has been raised to focus on what is wrong with them and only 20% of them were praised for what they did right. The 80% generally have negative self-images and invest large sums of energy trying to keep others from seeing the weaknesses they perceive in themselves. Help these people to see small success in their days and praise them. Nothing builds self-esteem faster than being successful. New dental leaders and team members will acknowledge that the practice’s success in the current environment of rapid change depends more on mutually developing each other’s self-esteem than on developing their clinical skills.

Secondly, the new leader must become conversant with the components of personal and organizational effectiveness. This is much more than knowing that the schedule is filled, that recall is being worked, and financial arrangements are being made. These components include personal empowerment, quality consciousness, clear purpose of the office, inspiring vision, and alignment of the team. In other words, the successful new dental leader must face the real issue of managing the collective mindset, or attitude, of the team, which radically affects the practice’s profitability. Improvements in practice productivity, increased levels of case acceptance, enhanced levels of personal service, increased profitability – hard issues – are the result of how well the new leader manages soft people issues.

It is helpful to know that people with low self-esteem focus on what is not working while those with high self-esteem focus on what is right and how to improve it. This is called “shifting focus.” Dental practices soar when a majority of the team shifts from a problem focus to a solution focus.