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3 Ways to Take Your Dental Practice Farther


Community leadership motivation Sep 29, 2021

You’re spinning your wheels and not growing. Every team meeting, you’re rehashing the same issues over and over again with no progress. The motivation for improving your practice is lacking but desperately needed. How do you get off the hamster wheel and confront what you’ve always avoided changing?

Knowing where and how to begin is often the biggest hurdle to overcome before starting the change process. Below are three actionable items you can start doing today to head in the right direction and take your practice farther.

Be Vulnerable

Admitting your faults and your weaknesses is challenging, and disclosing your mistakes can be difficult. Being vulnerable is hard and yet very necessary. It takes strength, and it takes bold trust. Vulnerability-based trust involves transparency, honesty, abandoning pride, and admitting mistakes for the greater good of the entire organization. Without trust and without vulnerability, growth will always be stunted. Lasting improvements simply do not happen without making the choice to embrace vulnerability.

On our teams, we experience multiple types of trust. Two, in particular, are predictive trust and vulnerability-based trust. Predictive trust is counting on (or predicting) a team member will respond or act in a certain way because that is what your experience tells you will happen. Predictive trust is valuable and necessary (less micro-managing all around!) Yet, trust that is built through vulnerability is what can begin to take your practice further. Vulnerability allows you and your team to engage in the critical conversations you need to make the right decisions, uncover the root cause of challenges, and have real, sustainable growth. Leaning into vulnerability will help you build your practice and build a more robust, healthy team.

When speaking to the process of building a successful practice, Dr. Barrett Straub shared,It will start with you becoming humble and vulnerable. The results, however, will be dramatic and life-changing.” 

Look to Peers and Mentors

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This classic African Proverb reminds us to lean on the wisdom and experience of others. But not just anyone’s advice will get you the knowledge you need.

We all possess unique strengths and abilities. Our life experiences also constantly teach and shape us. We are forever growing. Establishing solid relationships with respected mentors and peers is one of the best ways to learn and grow continually.

I never want to be the smartest person in any room. If I'm ever the smartest person in the room, then I am in the wrong room. By osmosis, we become the average of the five people we hang around the most. So here's my question, who are you hanging around with? And how are they making you better? Maybe it's time you consider a different crowd that could challenge you to become better in all aspects of your life.” Kirk Behrendt

Stay Positive

If you’ve spent any amount of time around the ACT team, you’ve likely noticed that we tend to look on the brighter side. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we make mistakes. But here at ACT, we believe in progress, not perfection. We believe that you fail forward, and you don’t lose, you grow. We believe in maintaining an above-the-line mindset.

What exactly does it mean to stay above the line, and why does it matter? Living above the line is about taking ownership, accountability, and responsibility. When above the line, we remain open, cooperative, and committed to learning and growth. We remain positive.

Positivity also provides a more stable support system for team members. A leader that is positive has a higher team satisfaction rate and higher levels of loyalty.  This fosters a productive working environment in which team members are not scared to voice complaints, be vulnerable, and ask for help if needed.

Beyond the impact to the team, we find that dentists who carry themselves with confidence and happiness, those with a smile on their face, find that nearly every patient they see smiles back at them. This boosts the morale of the whole team, which results in improved customer service, and increased case acceptance. If you have a smile on your face you will be perceived as a professional who is easy to get along with, and one that takes a genuine interest in your patients and their dental health. Carry this mindset through to virtual interactions with others and don’t let your attitude be affected by negativity online. Remember that we control our responses!

If you want to positively influence the business side of your practice, then it pays to be positive! 

If we’ve learned anything from our current circumstances in a global pandemic, it’s that we need each other and human connection to withstand challenges and celebrate wins. We know growth and change are difficult, yet we also know the hard work, and the progress is worth it. Lean into the challenges before you, be open, be honest, be positive. 

Remember, as Brene Brown said, “We don’t have to do it all alone; we were never meant to.” We will always go farther together. 


Are you looking to learn more about leadership in this fantastic profession? Check out our recent webinar where Kirk Behrendt and Barrett Straub discuss the challenges and opportunities we face and learn from together. 


About the Authors: Jenni Poulos is a lead practice coach at ACT Dental.

Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental. She is also a dental hygienist, motivational speaker, and writer. With over twenty years of serving in different roles in dentistry, she combines her experience to provide our community with best practices for a better life.

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.