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Time for a New Perspective

Time for a New Perspective

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There’s a classic tale of an executive showing a new manager, who we’ll call Chris, around the company offices. As the two turn the corner, they see a colleague with his feet up on the desk, his hands behind his head with his eyes closed. Chris turns to his new boss and says, “What a slacker, I’ll have to do something about that right away.” The executive turns to Chris and says, “Actually that’s Tom, he’s one of our best people. He’s doing exactly what we pay him to do; he’s thinking.”

Can you imagine how Chris felt hearing that? Clearly, this was a significant learning moment for Chris to realize that things are not always as they seem at first glance. Chris, eager to impress his new boss on his first day, was premature in his assessment of what he had just seen. He was looking at the situation through the eyes of his past experience, rather than stopping to consider a broader perspective.

Perspective is both interesting and challenging; definitely a skill that practice leaders should hone. The Cambridge Dictionary defines perspective as “a particular way of viewing things that depends on one’s experience and personality.” Chris definitely understood this Level 1 perspective. Cambridge also adds, “Perspective also means the ability to consider things in relation to one another accurately and fairly. … If something is in perspective, it is considered as part of a complete situation so that you have an accurate and fair understanding of it.” This new Level 2 perspective is a game changer.

Let’s explore how this plays out in your dental practices

Take a minute to think back to the last stressful situation that occurred in your practice. Chances are good that the miscommunication was based on a limited, Level 1 application of perspective on the part of one or both people involved in the situation.

Consider the following results of a survey of practice leaders I conducted in 2018:

  • 32% reported issues that distracted them from their priorities roughly once a week.
  • 55% reported significant miscommunication among team several times per week.
  • 13% more reported these miscommunications and distractions occurred daily.

With results showing that nearly 70% of practice leaders are diverted from the priorities that will drive practice growth, clearly there is great value in turning these statistics around and creating a stronger focus on positive teamwork.

The unspoken danger

Doctors, the statistics above are especially relevant to you, owing to the amount of time you spend chairside, unaware of what the team members working in other areas of the practice are doing. Team members, your focus on your individual positions and departments in the practice also prevent you from being completely aware of what else is happening in the office. Without proper Level 2 perspective, this is a recipe for disruption in high level practice service and performance.

I’d say it’s a safe bet that each of us has, at one time or another, made a snap judgment based on our personal Level 1 perspective of a situation. Another safe bet is that we later regretted speaking too soon. However, the real danger is in the unspoken conclusions we draw based on limited perspective, that will impact our future actions, mindset and results.

Your leadership currency

Practice leaders who learn and teach the lesson of two levels of perspective will master the art of positive influence in their practices. Supporting the team to both seek and consider different points of view will lead to better, more collaborative solutions for everyone. Encourage brainstorming, support productive debate and guide your team with strong purpose and passion. The time that used to be spent being distracted can now be channeled toward more joy, more impact, more fun, more free time, more of all the good things in life.

Influence is your greatest leadership currency and the secret to developing your team. Take a few minutes to put your feet up on the desk, hands behind your head, eyes closed and think about the one, best next step you can take to reach your next level of practice success. Surely this will be time well spent.

Ms. Hegarty, a senior professional in human resources, is a management strategist and coach focused on practice leadership and team development. Her book, PIVOT, Practice Leadership Redefined is available on Contact her via