4 Promises of Leadership Development That Will Transform Your Dental Career

By: Dr. Edwin “Mac” McDonald

The development of leadership competencies is about developing yourself. As you look outward with the desire to influence and inspire, consider what you would gain from looking inward instead. Becoming a great leader is about your own capacity for change, as hard as change can be.

In the dental practice, we must show up for our patients and our team members, but we can’t do so properly when we aren’t clear on our vision, mission, and values.

As a leader, you must deploy yourself into a set of constantly evolving circumstances. But which “you” shows up? Is it the most powerful and courageous version of yourself?

When you took on the responsibility of becoming a healthcare professional, you made the decision to simultaneously become a leader. It is your responsibility to show up as the best you that you can be.

4 Leadership Strategies That Will Transform Your Dental Career

Here are four promises you can make to elevate your leadership skills in pursuit of a stronger practice culture. 

1. Choose a Meaningful Direction

Every organization needs to choose its overall direction. Without a destination, the practice will lack structure and clarity.

Your purpose is not obvious just because it is obvious to you, so by narrowing down your vision, mission, and values, you will ensure that you and your team’s actions align with your shared principles. Your vision, mission, and values directly connect with the inspiration, meaning, and behavior you foster in your practice.

Vision leads to inspiration because your vision takes you where you want to go. Without it, you may veer off onto a wrong path or pursue flashy trends that don’t get you where you are headed. The practice’s mission leads to meaning because it clarifies what you must overcome and why.

Finally, your values guide behavioral standards, which are necessary to achieve your intended result. Purposefulness is a missing ingredient in many leadership styles.

When your vision, mission, and values unite, it is clear you see the way forward.

2: Keep Stakeholders Engaged and Accountable

How well do you really know your team? Do you understand their unique talents, passions, and goals? They cannot serve your vision if you cannot serve theirs. Make it your business to see where they are coming from. Be their cheerleader. Be their support. Create a culture where talented dental staff are a part of the mission and vision of the company.

As a leader, we imagine ourselves at the top of the pyramid, but the best leaders stand firmly at the base, underpinning and uplifting all the rest.

Learn how to bring out each person’s potential as you seek to discover the skills or experiences they wish to cultivate. Transform your organizational culture from people simply complying with demands to a thriving team unit that genuinely commits, collaborates, and contributes.

3: Create Clarity and Stay Focused

Implement the right strategies that keep you on the path toward your goals. Ensure the processes you choose to utilize are efficient and effective for your overarching vision.

In the same vein, avoid distractions that don’t actually serve your mission. Your team’s hope and confidence in achieving your practice’s goals can be undermined when your promises as a leader are broken. Don’t waste their time and don’t waste resources.

One great example of this is implementing a new strategy that you aren’t fully confident in or that goes against your stated values. That is a sure way to provoke confusion in your team.

4: Prioritize Relationships

How do you cultivate trust? The answer is another question: Are you trustworthy? When you make your own trustworthiness a priority, you create a trusting culture. Seek to change yourself, versus trying to change others, and you will find that you are truly a leader that others want to follow.

When you make and keep these four promises, you foster a stronger dental practice culture that will endure for the long run.

Up Next: How To Manage a Dental Team as a New Dentist

Photo by Anna Tarazevich


  • https://pankeygram.org/the-dentists-leadership-role/
  • https://pankeygram.org/mastering-business-essentials/
  • https://pankeygram.org/pankey-team-experience/
Edwin McDonald

Edwin McDonald

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.