It’s all about leadership.

Sometimes it takes a bit of encouragement to push yourself and reach your highest potential. Dentists who seek to enhance their careers and take their practice to the next level need to invest in continuing education and learn new skills to boost production and create a unique office model. When you look at some of the most famous leadership quotes, it can help dentists take a leap of faith and push themselves to create the practice of their dreams.

1. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree

Being a practice owner comes with many benefits, but also several challenges. A dentist wears many hats as an owner between patient care, administrative duties, hiring, human resources, and many even act as a “therapist” for their team. You need to define your office values and what you expect of your team, but it is also important you show you are a team player. If you’re short staffed, help your employees out. Learn how to run the front desk. Be a role model by being a well-rounded and enthusiastic person. If you come to work every day stressed and miserable, you can expect your dental team to follow your lead.

2. Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch

By the time you’ve reached dental ownership, you have already accomplished so much. College, dental school, and residency programs are all important milestones of your career. Once you become a dental owner, you’ll want to pass some of that motivation on to your dental employees so they have the same enthusiasm about working at your dental practice.

Encourage your team by taking continuing education courses for orthodontics so they can see the importance of advancing your career and continually learning. There is nothing greater than helping others further their education so they can have a better quality of life.

3. Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. —Brian Tracy

Staff relationships are probably one of the most difficult challenges a dentist will have when running a practice. Personalities can clash, so it is important to have good communication with all of your employees. Set a positive example by being the leader you would want to work for if you were in your staff’s shoes. When you respect your team’s time, pay them fairly, and value their efforts, you’ll notice your office runs smoothly and work will never feel like work.

4. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. —Peter Drucker

Taking your practice to the next level can be a difficult task because it doesn’t only involve your expertise in clinical care. Be a dental owner who your staff respects. When you make a promise in your office, follow through. When you plan a meeting, be clear about your vision for the practice’s culture and what you expect from your entire team. Sometimes you need to take a few bad seeds out of an office setting to make it run more comfortably. Remember that your team looks to you to make clear, effective decisions for both them and patients.

5. People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell

A good dentist is one who can provide high-level dental care, but a great dentist is one who cares deeply about their patients and employees. When you are compassionate and show that you are the dentist you want to be, your staff will be on board to help you run an incredible practice. If you’re constantly stressed and take it out on your employees, it is difficult for them to help you maintain and build a successful practice.

6. The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. —Jim Rohn

How can a dental owner relate to everyone in the office, including hygienists, administrative staff, assistants, and patients? Remember that everyone is human and has a life outside of work. It is your responsibility to run a safe and comfortable environment for everyone, which means it takes good leadership skills to communicate and practice those goals.

7. A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —Douglas MacArthur

It is not easy being the boss in a dental practice. You are pulled in every direction between patient care and concerns, staff relationships, payroll, and office duties. Sometimes you need to make decisions in the best interest of the office and not everyone is happy. When this happens, try to explain to your team the reason you are making these decisions instead of just listing demands. You’ll gain more respect when you treat your team like equals and have a mutual understanding of each other.

8. Education is the mother of leadership. —Wendell Willkie

It takes more than just dental school and residency to really learn how to run a dental practice. Education in dentistry is never over, whether it is clinically related or administrative based. Consider taking continuing education courses like an orthodontic course to advance your skills and ability to treat patients at the highest level of care. It will help you gain perspective on a very relatable area of dentistry and is one of the most lucrative ways to grow your practice.

Besides investing in your education, think about helping your staff get to the next level in their knowledge and treatment skills. Offer an orthodontic assistant course or orthodontic dental hygienist course to have your team be able to “specialize” in dentistry and build their résumés. It will benefit you in the long run because you’ll have a team that can treat all areas of dentistry.

9. Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. —General Colin Powell

If you find yourself struggling to communicate with your team, you are not alone. Dental school doesn’t prepare you for how to run an office and handle difficult staff situations. Think about taking a leadership course where you can learn the best ways to manage employees and run a successful practice. Some of the best practices are run by dentists who can handle all areas of the office: front desk, billing, and patient care. This is because once you understand how the entire office operates from your staff’s perspective, you will be better able to come to solutions with them when there is an issue.

10. Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts. —Erskine Bowles

If you feel your practice is not running the way you want it to, make positive changes. Boost your team’s motivation by holding meetings with production goals and give small bonuses, offer continuing education courses to stimulate your assistants and hygienists, and incentivize good work behavior and increased production. When you want your practice to grow, but you don’t make any changes, your practice will remain in status quo, but when you act as a leader that others look up to, you will see positive changes in your staff’s attitude and work ethic.

And one more: Whatever you are, be a good one. —Abraham Lincoln

Most people think dentistry is all about oral health and the oral cavity, but the truth is dental owners need many more skills than treating teeth to run a successful practice. As your practice grows, it will feel fulfilling both professionally and personally, but regardless of what type of practice you have, it is most important to be a good, considerate person. When you feel you are doing your very best by investing in your practice’s technology, taking continuing education courses like orthodontics, and working on your leadership skills, your career will certainly flourish.