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Are you a leader or a manager?

As the owner of a dental practice, you’re both a dentist and a boss. Whether you’re new at the role or an old hand, determining your management style is a big part of building consistency and getting better at what you do. In this post, we discuss what it means to be a leader and how it differs from being a manager.

Belief in your vision

A primary distinction between leaders and managers is that leaders inspire team members to believe in their vision, so that their actions match that vision. Managers, on the other hand, ask subordinates to do work, without necessarily creating buy-in to anything greater.

To look at a simple example. Say you’ve got an issue with employees not following your practice’s infection protocol. A manager might point out that keeping a sterile environment for patients is the law and that following the rules is part of keeping your job. A leader, on the other hand, might talk about the importance of keeping patients and team members safe and inspire everyone to work together to make your practice the safest place to get dental care.

The difference is subtle, and in the short term, both strategies get the same results. Most people will do what their boss tells them to do. But over the long-term, the leader’s approach will produce greater results.

Boost in morale

Another effect of leading your team instead of managing them is that people tend to enjoy doing tasks that align with their beliefs and dislike completing duties that don’t. When employees do their jobs only because they are told to, it’s possible that they’ll grow to resent their responsibilities. When they buy into your vision, mundane tasks can become part of working towards a shared goal.

What it looks like in action

Of course, there will still be times when you ask employees to do something just because it’s their job. Running a practice requires that you be both a manager and a leader, but once you recognize the distinction, it becomes easier to take a long-term view to solving problems and growing your practice.