Being a great leader is not the result of good genes or good luck, rather great leaders simply know how to generate results for the organization. Great leaders are also great bosses and connecting with each employee and creating an environment where every employee feels valued is essential to creating the kind of organization that generates results for its employees as well. Before I tell you the nine Dental CEO practices that I recommend you follow in order to become more effective as the leader of your organization, I want to share with you the results of a recent Florida State University College of Business study. Researchers surveyed more than 700 people who work in a variety of jobs about their opinions of supervisor treatment on the job and found the following:
- 39% said their supervisor failed to keep promises.
- 37% said their supervisor failed to give credit when due.
- 31% said their supervisor gave them the “silent treatment” in the past year.
- 27% said their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.
- 24% said their supervisor invaded their privacy.
- 23% said their supervisor blames others to cover up mistakes or minimize embarrassment.
The researchers also found that employees stuck in an abusive relationship with their supervisor experienced more exhaustion, job tension, nervousness, depressed moods, and mistrust. They also were less likely to take on additional tasks, such as working longer or on weekends, and were generally less satisfied with their job. Also, employees were more likely to leave if involved in an abusive relationship than if dissatisfied with pay. (The results of the study have been scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of The Leadership Quarterly, a journal read by scholars, consultants, practicing managers, executives, and administrators as well as those who teach leadership skills.)
For those of you recognizing any of these “bad boss” behaviors in yourself, it’s definitely time to make a change. Ask if you’ve acted in any of the ways described above, and if you answer “yes,” then understand that you and you alone are responsible for creating a potentially dysfunctional workplace. Employers who act without consideration and thoughtfulness toward their employees will never attain the goals they’ve set for themselves or their organization. It’s not hard to create a workplace where employees feel valued; you simply have to have a will for it to happen. I’ll share with you five questions your employees must answer in the affirmative in order to create a functional and effective organization:
- I can do my job without management looking over my shoulder.
- I feel proud to work here.
- I am fairly compensated.
- There’s a minimum of backstabbing and politicking.
- I’m given all the tools I need to do good job here.
If you don’t think your employees can answer each of these questions positively, it’s imperative that you get to the heart of the matter and do everything you can to change yourself or your environment. An effective leader values his employees and his organization. You can’t become great without mastering both of these competencies. So what are the nine Dental CEO practices that create the framework for effective leadership? The nine smart business practices are:
1. Determine what needs to be done. Failure to find out this critical question will render the most charismatic or competent leader ineffective. Jack Welch realized that what needed to be done at General Electric when he took over as chief executive was not the overseas expansion he wanted to launch. It was getting rid of GE businesses that—no matter how profitable— could not be No. 1 or No. 2 in their industries.
2. Learn what’s right for your organization. Note that the question is not what’s right for the patients, the associates, or the employees. Those are all important constituencies who need to support a decision, or acquiesce to it, if the choice is to be effective. But if a decision isn’t right for the organization as a whole, in the long run it won’t be right for anyone.
3. Develop action plans. The action plan is a statement of intention rather than a commitment. It should be revised often, because every success creates new opportunities. So does every failure. Napoleon allegedly said that no successful battle ever followed its plan. Yet Napoleon also planned every one of his battles, far more meticulously than any earlier general had done. Without an action plan, you become a prisoner of events.
4. Take responsibility for every decision. This is particularly important when it comes to hiring or promoting people. If after promoting a person the decision does not have the desired results, don’t conclude that the person has not performed, rather face the fact that you made a mistake. In a well-managed organization it is understood that people who fail in a new job, especially after a promotion, may not be the ones to blame.
5. Take responsibility for communicating. Effective executives make sure that both their action plans and their information needs are understood. Specifically, this means that you share your plans with and ask for comments from all your colleagues– associates, subordinates, and peers. At the same time, you let each person know what information they’ll need to get the job done. The information flow from subordinate to boss is usually what gets the most attention, but executives need to pay equal attention to associates’ and other employee’s information needs.
6. Focus on opportunities, not problems. In most companies the first page of the monthly management report lists key problems. It’s far wiser to list opportunities on the first page and leave problems for the second page. Unless there is a true catastrophe, problems are not discussed in management meetings until opportunities have been analyzed and properly acted upon.
7. Make meetings productive. Every study of the executive workday has found that even junior executives and professionals are with other people—that is, in a meeting of some sort—more than half of every business day. Making a meeting productive takes a good deal of self-discipline. It requires that executives determine what kind of meeting is appropriate and then stick to that format. It’s also necessary to terminate the meeting as soon as its specific purpose has been accomplished. Good executives don’t raise another matter for discussion. They sum up and adjourn.
8. Think and say “We.” Effective executives know that they have ultimate responsibility, which can be neither shared nor delegated. But they have authority only because they have the trust of the organization. This means that they think of the needs and the opportunities of the organization before they think of their own needs and opportunities. This one may sound simple. It isn’t, but it needs to be strictly observed.
9. Listen first, speak last. This is by far the most important practice every leader must employ in order to be effective. Good decisions are the result of gathering data, observation, objectivity, and decisiveness.
Taking the high road, striving for low turnover, providing fair compensation, realizing your production and collection goals, and following good management practices is simply a matter of will— when you have the will, the way becomes clear.