(Dr. John Meis is our guest blogger this week at Sidekick Magazine)
They seem to always know the right thing to say. In awkward or uncomfortable situations they speak when others are silent, struggling to think of what to say. You have no doubt met someone like this.
My Dad is a student of communication. When I was a young dentist he tried to teach me that what you say, how you say it, and when you say it is more important to your success than any other activity. I didn’t understand the wisdom of what he was trying to teach me until years later. I was stuck in the dental school process, thinking the clinical aspects of patient care were more important than the emotional ones.
My Dad has a phrase that he uses to describe someone when they hit the right words, the right tone, and the right timing. He would call that person “silver lips”. A few high profile and public examples: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, “Ask not what your country can do for you…”, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall”. Great words, great tone, great timing, great leaders.
During consultation calls I often hear doctor’s frustrations about leading their teams or as I often hear it, the difficulty of getting teams to follow. One school of thought is to go the dictatorial route: “Do it or I will get someone who will”. Undoubtedly this harsh method may be necessary in extreme cases, but my results are better when I work with the willing, not the coerced. How do we get our teams to be willing?
My belief is that the best leaders are always selling. Obviously, they are always selling their clients on their ideas. Less obviously, they are also “selling” their teams on how important the organization’s vision is. Obscured often is how the leader sells his team on how important their role is in attaining that vision.
I learned a great phrase while working with Lee Brower, author of the “Brower Quadrant” and who is featured in the book and movie “The Secret”. When I describe a necessary change in the practice I do my “sales” job to the team. If I do it well, they are onboard, nearly always. Rarely, I get some push back, a team member that is reluctant to accept the change. When I do, I respond back with how important it is to me, to the team, and to the patients we serve that they get in line with the rest of the team. Then I pull out Lee’s magic phrase: “Would you be willing to…..” and I fill in the change that is required from the team member.
The team member’s answer to this question tells you all you need to know. The question requires the team member to decide: am I willing or not. If you are truly coming from the place that what you are asking is in everyone’s best interest, only the most disruptive team member will say no. A person’s unwillingness in such situations puts in question whether they can function as part of your team, or any team.
Dr. Meis is a practicing dentist and owner of an extremely successful dental practice in Sioux City, Iowa with 49 team members. He knows firsthand how to manage and inspire a dental team. He also is a top producer, and has helped countless others to realize more success in their practices.