7 Success Tips for Dentists
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Dr Menaca Pothalingam

Menaca Pothalingam is a multi-award-winning leadership coach, serial entrepreneur, advocate for mental health and ambassador for women empowerment. She is an international keynote speaker, bestselling author and corporate resilience strategist. Born in Sri Lanka and settled in the UK, she decided to move into the world of coaching, putting her personal and professional experiences into practice after 25 years in the Healthcare industry as a dentist and a practice owner. She is a coveted speaker at the upcoming DRDCA 2020 International.

Leadership skills were tested to the limits, and all the resources you could imagine had to be called into action in 2020. Despite the challenging circumstances, numerous practice owners have utilised this time to plan and implement change to navigate through this change strategically. Some have even managed to grow their practice, increase their revenue and profit by bringing creativity and innovation into play.

This year allows you to take a step back, reflect, get advice, guidance and training from experts in the field. It has created the perfect opportunity to stop working round the clock, have burnout and instead work strategically towards building a successful business. Together with your team, plan how to grow your practice and profits to the next level.

What makes you a successful leader, practice owner or clinician?

Over the years, dentists have asked me the same question in different ways repeatedly.

I learnt some of the insights and lessons through making personal mistakes which cost me a lot personally and professionally. I also realised the strategies and tools helped me to progress and transform as a clinician, leader and practice owner for the past 25 years.

The vital lesson was to have a healthy work-life balance and invest time and effort in self-care and self-development.

Do you want to know the secret behind a successful dentist?

Do you want to understand how to stand out as a dental practice owner in the industry?

Success Tip #1: Are you finding solutions?

Successful dentists are solution-focused.

As clinicians, some always seem to have adequate time to listen to their patients with patience and empathy. They pay attention to what their patients say and understand them. They seem to care genuinely and are willing to work with their patients to work out a solution together.

As leaders, they focus on finding solutions taking time to listen to their team and empathise with them.

‘They continuously learn from their own mistakes and those of others around them. They pay attention to how other leaders and successful business people lead. They take time and effort to learn the mindset and skills required for problem-solving.

They’re always seeking, learning and thinking of ways to solve existing shortcomings and inspire others to do the same. They appreciate everyone & everything around them.

They have the attitude of gratitude & they lead by example.

Success tip #2: What is your driver?

Successful clinicians and business owners focus on feedback.

Their driver is how their patients value them as a practitioner. When a practitioner builds relationships based on mutual trust, respect and transparency, you create loyalty and community.

They believe in obtaining regular feedback from their team members. They understand the importance of learning from the team around them as well as guiding them.

They take the feedback seriously and implement change accordingly to serve their team and clients better.

When you place the focus on patient satisfaction and feedback from the team, success becomes the by-product leading to income and profits.

Success tip #3: How often do you develop yourself as a leader?

Leadership starts with you. It is as important to develop your leadership skills as much as your technical skills. Self-management and self-leadership are an essential part of your puzzle to success.

Leaders realise they are the heart of their life, profession and organisation, and regularly assess, analyse and identify the areas of development personally and professionally.

As clinicians and business leaders, they consistently develop themselves and look at growth holistically. They invest in their personal development and learn clinical skills and leadership skills from experts in the field. They understand the importance of investment in themselves, the business and their team.

Learning and practising your leadership skills, self-leadership, in particular, is equally, if not more important for a healthcare practitioner & leader.

Success tip #4: Who is the most important person in your practice?

Successful dentists understand they’re only one part of the solution. You’re only as successful as your team.

They spend time and effort in recruiting the right team with shared values, vision and purpose. A successful leader builds a team with varying strengths to complement each other.

Learn the importance of team development. The analogy is our body. To be able to maintain health and wellbeing, all the organs have to function well, individually and collectively. It would be best if you nourished these organs, for you to perform at your best.

Training and developing your team is the quickest way to success. As the adage goes if you nurture your team, they will nurture your clients and grow your business for you.

The successful leader ensures the health and wellbeing of their team, which reduces absenteeism and multiplies performance and productivity.

Your team is the backbone of your practice!

Success tip #5: Do you know your destination?

As a leader, the essential ingredients are clarity, direction and the desire to make an impact. You are steering the ship to a destination and guiding the team to follow a course.

A clear vision will help you from recruitment to designing your service model. It will help you to reroute or circumnavigate through adverse situations with creativity, innovation and resilience.

Collaboration with stakeholders becomes effortless and productive when everyone knows where they are heading and what they are trying to achieve.

Success tip #6: Are you creating followers or leaders?

Are you investing, inspiring and developing your team to become leaders themselves?

Successful dentists understand the secret behind success is in the giving. They are more willing to provide value before expecting returns. They know when you provide value, patients never want to go anywhere else. They believe in creating a community rather than look for clients.

Successful leaders understand the magic of creating more leaders. They educate & encourage everyone around them to become leaders. You could survey your practice to know how you can help your team through this journey.

When everyone can lead independently, the organisation runs effortlessly, and excel in service delivery. By identifying their strength, delegating effectively and allowing them to work independently, you encourage them to be self-assured individuals and self-sufficient leaders.

Success tip #7: Are you responding or reacting?

Successful dentists understand the importance of being calm in the storm. They learn how to respond effectively to unexpected changes and adversities.

They train themselves in resilience, adaptability and ability to see the bigger picture. Successful leaders understand every challenge presents them the opportunity to learn something, explore possibilities and restart again.

Their team respects them, knowing they can rely on them through a challenging time. Good leaders encourage and support others through adversities rather than pointing blame.

Successful dentists don’t complain. Instead, they spend their time and energy on finding solutions & try to get consensus.

In essence, leadership begins with self-leadership. Bringing awareness into our daily routine and habits as a clinician and practice owner, is beneficial and rewarding personally, and professionally, at many levels.

Dr Menaca Pothalingam
Menaca Pothalingam is a multi-award-winning leadership coach, serial entrepreneur, advocate for mental health and ambassador for women empowerment. She is an international keynote speaker, bestselling author and corporate resilience strategist.

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