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719: The Leadership Blueprint: Elevating Your Dental Practice Culture – Adriana Booth

Are you feeling miserable in your practice? There's only one way to fix it, and that's by becoming a better leader. To help you achieve this, Kirk Behrendt brings back Adriana Booth, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, with a blueprint for creating a better culture in your practice. If you're unhappy at the place you work, don't stay stuck! To hit the reset button for your practice culture, listen to Episode 719 of The Best Practices Show!

Learn More About Adriana:

Learn More About ACT Dental:

More Helpful Links for a Better Practice & a Better Life:

Episode Resources:

Main Takeaways:

  • Prioritize your core values to build a great practice culture.
  • Most employees value culture more than compensation.
  • People are more productive in a positive environment.
  • Get the right people and put them in the right seats.
  • Build trust with consistent huddles and check-ins.
  • Believe in your core values wholeheartedly.
  • Clearly communicate your core values.
  • Give yourself grace as a leader.
  • Get a coach to help you.


“Your biggest challenge will be — for the rest of your career — finding, keeping, and growing great people.” (6:05—6:12) -Kirk

“Having a great team is the most important asset you will ever create. It's not your Facebook Ads, it's not your technology, it's not your CAD/CAM — it's the people. Because when you get the right people in the right seats, they can make incredible things happen.” (6:18—6:32) -Kirk

“The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” (9:53—9:57) -Kirk

“It's been said by so many experts, culture eats strategy for breakfast. I love this quote because there are a lot of brilliant people out here. I'll pass on all of them if I can find people that are bought into our culture, because when you get a collective culture, people are like, ‘I'm all-in on this. I'll take out the trash. I'll do whatever for these people that I love so much,’ you'll be shocked by the results that happen that'll go way beyond what you think.” (10:16—10:45) -Kirk

“Why does culture matter? Because it has a tremendous impact on the team. Getting your practice healthy not only has a dramatic impact on the business — it's transformational for the lives of the people that work there.” (11:44—12:01) -Kirk

“The teams that are laughing the most are crushing it. The ones that aren't, aren't. They're struggling. If it isn't fun, it won't last. And you can apply that to anything.” (13:03—13:15) -Kirk

“The data doesn't lie. Fifty-eight percent of employees have quit a job, or would consider quitting, if they felt the culture was like, bad behavior. People don't quit dental practices. They quit people. If somebody leaves you, it's not them — it's you.” (14:03—14:22) -Kirk

“Ninety-five percent of employees believe culture is more important than compensation. So, yes, compensation is important — don't get me wrong. But it's part of the package. And it becomes more of an issue for team members when the culture is not there.” (14:32—14:48) -Kirk

“People are like, ‘People don't want to work anymore. Nobody wants to work. Nobody wants to work!’ I'm like, ‘No, that's not true. Nobody wants to work for you.’ So, that's your challenge.” (14:52—15:01) -Kirk

“Eighty-one percent of respondents on a recent survey agree that a company lacking in culture is doomed to mediocrity.” (15:42—15:49) -Kirk

“Let's get great people. Because when you get the right people and you put them in the right seats, you can produce twice as much in half the time with a quarter of the stress.” (15:57—16:04) -Kirk

“According to research, you're 12% more productive in a positive environment. Now, that's not hard to figure out. You just feel better. Sometimes, just feeling better makes things better. So, it has a huge impact on patients. Patients can feel the energy. When you love your team, the first person that notices is a patient.” (16:06—16:26) -Kirk

“[Core values are] traits that are inherent to your practice. They're the heart of your culture and they don't really change over time. And you can bring things to life. They guide behavior. They are behaviors. They are verbs. And I have to say this out loud. You have to be able to see them in action. So, excellence, for me, is not a core value. I don't know how you could have excellence as a core value. You can't even define it when you see it. You feel it, but you can't define it. For me, a core value is a behavior. All-in attitude is a behavior. Give greater than get is a behavior. Always be growing. That's a behavior. So, they should be verbs. They shouldn't be aspirational.” (22:57—23:39) -Kirk

“The bottom line is, the reason that you don't like an employee or that you fall out of equity with an employee, it comes down to two things. They're not the right person, or they're not in the right seat.” (23:46—23:57) -Kirk

“When you get your core values right, they do a couple of things. Number one, they attract the right team members. The second thing is they attract the right patients. Remember, at the end of the day, marketing anything you do is one thing. You're attracting people that believe the same thing that you believe. Your least favorite patients, or your least favorite friends, or your least favorite team members you ever worked with, or least favorite dentist you've ever worked for, just didn't care about the same things that you care about. They cared about different things. So, my first question is, what do you care about? When you put the flag in the ground, you go, ‘This is what I care about,’ you'll be amazed by how many people want to hold that flag up to support it. And by communicating your core values, you attract the right type of people.” (24:16—24:58) -Kirk

“Let me share with you the journey. I was so miserable because I was trying to be nice. I was a wuss. I was just trying to be nice. I wanted everybody to get along. What I didn't realize was when there was drama, I was the person that was feeding it. I’d go, ‘Don't worry about it. I'll talk to her. I'll talk to somebody.’ What it’d lend itself to is people that were very unhappy because they followed their own rules in there. And so, when I started the core values work, I started from a bad place. I'm like, ‘I don't want to do this anymore. I'm done. I'm just done. I don't want to feel this way anymore. I'm miserable.’ I started in the dark area of like, ‘I'm done with this. I'm no longer going to put up with this.’ And as you can imagine, what you feed your brain with, it grows.” (28:47—29:36) -Kirk

“[Our coach] said leadership is three steps: self, others, culture. She deals with high-level executives who don't follow that process. They want others to behave — they don't want to behave. They want everybody else to show up for morning huddle, but they're late because they were “busy”. Do you know what I mean? So, ‘I want you guys to do this. I'm not going to do any of it.’ So, think about this. I've got to walk the talk in order for anybody to buy into that. Then, I've got to help others walk the talk. And then, lastly, once you get that going, now you can lean into culture.” (30:08—30:41) -Kirk

“Find a way to celebrate your team members.” (36:08—36:10) -Kirk

“Find a way to show the world, your team, and your patients that these [core values] are no joke. These are alive and well.” (38:39—38:47) -Kirk

“The right people have one thing in common. They share your core values. They care about the same things that you care about. When you get these locked in, when you put the flag in the ground, when you create swag, they will be so excited to wear the swag. They will be so happy to talk about the swag. And you go, ‘These are my people.’ The wrong people — they're not bad people. They just don't believe what you believe. They don't share the same values.” (41:48—42:13) -Kirk

“In [Traction, Gino Wickman] describes people have to get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it. Which means, ultimately, they get results. Because they might get it; they don't want it. They might get it and they want it, but they don't have the time or the skill set. So, you’ve got to check each box. They get it, they want it, and they have the capacity to do it. The wrong seat is — they're not bad people — they just don't get it, want it, or have the capacity to do it. And this starts with your leadership team or key positions in your practice.” (43:03—43:32) -Kirk

“If you're miserable right now in your dental practice, that means no one is holding the culture high. And what happens, ultimately, is you have this happen. Nothing kills a great team member than when you consistently tolerate a bad one. Your great team members will come up to you, and they'll stop you in the hallway, and they'll go, ‘Today is the day.’ And you go, ‘Oh, that's awesome. What's today?’ And they go, ‘I'm done. I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I absolutely refuse to be treated like that at the place I work. It's me or her. You have to decide.’ And if you're like me, you're a wuss. You don't do anything. You go, ‘I'll talk to her. Don't worry.’ So, you talk to her, talk to the other one, and then you talk to the other one. And if you're like me, years ago, you go to a restaurant, and you're with your family, and your phone is blowing up. One is texting you, and the other one is texting you, and then there's a shared text with both of them on it. Then, you're like, ‘Okay.’ You say to your wife, ‘I've got to go outside,’ and now I'm talking to one, and then I hang up, and I go, ‘I just talked to her. Can you talk to her?’ And now, I go back, and my wife goes, ‘What's wrong with you?’ I go, ‘Nothing.’ I'm as unhappy as could possibly be while two people argue in the universe about each other. So, you've got to put the flag in the ground.” (43:52—45:06) -Kirk

“[If] you're letting bad behavior continue, or you are bending and flexing on your core values, maybe because of a strong producer in a practice — a hygienist, a doctor, whoever it may be — your team doesn't believe in you and they're not going to trust you. They don't trust that culture and core values are really important to you because, as a team member, we watch actions. We don't listen to words.” (46:03—46:29) -Adriana

“The hardest part you realize is, I've got to walk this talk. I've got to follow the rules. When you follow the rules, other people follow the rules — and it ultimately builds trust.” (46:35—46:45) -Kirk

“When you get your core values right, it's like craziness repellent.” (46:51—46:56) -Kirk

“When you start to get the core values right, it builds the single-most important currency in your practice, which is called trust.” (47:24—47:33) -Kirk

“Transparency happens in your daily huddle. It happens in your weekly team meetings, and it happens in your quarterly and annual planning sessions. If you don't do your huddles, that means you're terrible at running huddles. You should get good at running huddles and let people share. Huddles are for patient care. Team meetings are for practice care. And a team meeting should be a good one. You should feel like, ‘Wow, that was two hours. And man, we didn't even cover everything. We got so much done.’ It should never be a recycling of trash and problems. And so, it becomes an incredible opportunity for transparency.” (48:16—48:54) -Kirk

“Trust happens as a result of certain things. The first one is transparency. I love being transparent. I share too much with my team because we all feel safe. And you don't just get safe. You have to work hard at creating safe.” (48:58—49:13) -Kirk

“Look at anybody who has created a great culture. They all have check-ins. All of them have check-ins. They have check-ins with team members. They have check-ins with family members. It's a space, regularly, where a team member can sit down with you and you can say the words, ‘Hey, look. I care about you. Let's talk about personal high, personal low, professional high, professional low, and how I can support you.’ Now, team members are not required by law to share anything with you, personally. And you don't have to share anything. I'm just leaving space for anything you want to share with me. The first couple will be awkward. But as you get into it, they're going to share some powerful stuff.” (49:35—50:08) -Kirk

“Mainly because as a hygienist — or maybe it's just my personality — people tell me a lot of things. Some things I don't need to know, don't want to know, should have never known. And so far, doctors have that same gene. So, I always tell them, ‘Make sure we create boundaries around sharing personal things in the check-in so that they don't feel like it's a therapy session.’ Some doctors get really nervous, or the leaders, and they're like, ‘I don't want to dive in these rabbit holes about these personal things.’ That is not the intention. So, create some boundaries around what is okay and not okay to share in that 15-minute window.” (50:37—51:16) -Adriana

“You’ve got to start at the top, and you’ve got to get aligned on values. As you start to work them down and you're consistent about them, you're going to see people will trust you. They will bring other team members to the practice and go, ‘I work for some great people.’” (52:37—52:52) -Kirk

“Everything begins and ends with your core values. Secondly, they can't just hang on the walls. They have to be alive in the hallways. Thirdly, make a plan for how to use your core values every day.” (55:03—55:17) -Kirk

“As you start to do this, you're going to really cultivate transparency, empathy, and consistency, which are critical elements in building trust as a leader. You'll be amazed at how much better everything goes. And remember, as goes the leader, so goes the team.” (55:54—56:11) -Kirk

“I think of a few of my clients who, in their journey with ACT and in their business and transitions, started with core values and they believed in it, but maybe not wholeheartedly. But then, once they really decided, ‘You know what? This is that important,’ they watched their team change. When their team got behind it — I think they are even more on board with core values than the doctors are, because they're like, ‘No. We aren't doing that. It doesn't fit core values. Nope. We're not hiring them. They don't fit core values.’ It's a beautiful shift when you have this whole group of leaders pushing you forward. Your numbers go up, your productivity goes up, but your stress goes down.” (56:48—57:30) -Adriana


0:00 Introduction.

2:26 Why this is important.

3:14 About ACT’s TTT and BPA.

5:51 Why it’s important to get culture right.

14:01 Data doesn't lie.

17:15 Be a level five leader.

19:44 The iceberg of core values.

21:00 Core values are the heart of your culture.

27:09 Four steps to identifying core values.

32:31 ACT’s core values, version 1.0.

37:38 Other examples of core values.

41:45 The right people GWC.

43:50 Walk the talk.

46:45 Build trust with huddles and check-ins.

50:21 Set boundaries around check-ins.

51:18 Start with consistency.

53:27 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

55:00 Last thoughts.

57:33 Q&A: How do team members rank the leadership team with numbers?

1:01:37 ACT’s next webinar, Unlock the Power of Patient Commitment.

Adriana Booth, BS, RDH Bio:

Adriana Booth is a Lead Practice Coach who partners with dentists and their teams to cultivate leadership skills, build practice growth, and streamline business practices. After spending nearly two decades in the dental industry working with top-notch dental teams, Adriana came to ACT to share her passion for professional growth, high-level training, and systems creation with our clients. As a dental hygienist with a love for continuing education and personal growth, helping a practice become successful is at the heart of her passion for dentistry.

Adriana has a B.S. in Dental Hygiene from West Liberty University/O’Hehir University. By being involved in several Columbus, Ohio, study clubs, Adriana maintains strong relationships within her local dental community. She enjoys a variety of fitness activities, family time, good books, and at the top of her list, her fur babies.