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746: Culture Catalyst: Igniting Practice Growth Through Leadership! – Miranda Beeson & Adriana Booth

A great practice culture doesn't just happen — it all starts with leadership. But what does it mean to be a strong leader? Who can become one? How do you do it? To answer these questions, Kirk Behrendt brings back Miranda Beeson and Adriana Booth, two of ACT’s amazing coaches, so you can improve your practice culture and enjoy being at work. When leaders get better, practices get better! To become the leader you deserve to be, listen to Episode 746 of The Best Practices Show!


Learn More About Miranda & Adriana:

Learn More About ACT Dental:

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

Episode Resources:

Main Takeaways:

  • Understand the six leadership styles and identify the type of leader you are.
  • Championing culture is the most important thing you will do as a leader.
  • Develop emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and social awareness.
  • Core values is also critical to having a great culture in your practice.
  • Be aware of negative emotions and find ways to regulate them.
  • Work on these soft skills like you do with your clinical skills.
  • CE and equipment will only take your practice so far.
  • Everyone is a leader in the practice.
  • Leadership is a learned skill.
  • Practice mindfulness.


“[Culture is] shared beliefs and how they come alive through the behaviors of everybody on our team. That's where the energy comes from, and that's where the feeling really stems from is when we're actually seeing it come to life. And here's the thing — it doesn't happen on its own.” (9:27—9:44) -Miranda

“Leadership is an art. It doesn't come naturally to everyone. It's a learned skill. And when we're really strong leaders, the most important things that we're doing is setting really clear direction, inspiring the confidence in others, and empowering others to contribute their best efforts.” (10:25—10:41) -Miranda

“Leadership can show up absolutely everywhere, and it always comes down to clear direction and expectations, inspiring confidence in others, helping to build other leaders — Kirk, you say all the time, great leaders build other leaders — and then empowering others to contribute their best efforts. That's really what leadership is all about.” (11:48—12:09) -Miranda

“Everyone is a leader in the practice. You may not have business decision-making leadership responsibilities, but everyone is watching you. I have someone that maybe looks up to me. They may never tell me that, but they're mimicking my behaviors, or they're watching me and looking up to me. That's a form of leadership. I do the same all the time. I will watch how someone else is behaving and think, ‘Oh, I really like their style. I like the way they speak. I like the way they interact with other people.’ To me, that person is a leader. So, it doesn't have to have this huge, overarching responsibility. But a responsibility of our own is to pay attention to how we show up because someone else is watching.” (12:53—13:38) -Adriana

“There are a lot of responsibilities that our leaders have to uphold. But the most important responsibility is championing culture. What we know through working with practices over and over for years and years coaching practices, culture matters the most. That's why we talk about core values. We talk about core values being the number-one most important thing that you can impact in a practice.” (14:50—15:15) -Miranda

“If you're not intentionally championing a culture, you are accidentally championing an accidental culture that you may or may not want. Everyone has a culture, whether they've thought about it or intentionally did it. If you haven't, and if you haven't done core values and you're not intentional about culture, you have an accidental culture, part of which is maybe good, and part of which is probably not good.” (15:42—16:10) -Dr. Straub

“Core values are super important. But we also need to have a vision. As a leader, especially a doctor-owner leader, you really have to stop and think about, where do I want this practice to go? There has to be a charted course for your team to align around to help support you and to help you get there.” (20:19—20:38) -Miranda

“Dentists spend so much money on clinical CE. Valid. It's really, really important to stay up to date, stay current, make sure we're advancing our skills. I would argue that it's equally as important to invest in learning who you are as a person, who you are as a leader, how you impact your team, and how you're going to take your team where you need to go.” (22:38— 23:00) -Miranda

“All of us go and spend money and invest in new clinical techniques, and we want to execute it. But we [haven't] necessarily built the culture or have nurtured the leadership skills to be able to share the vision and the why with your team, align that team on [the] why, and then execute this new clinical protocol. Every dentist here, if they're honest, can attest to the fact of like, ‘I just spent $5,000 for four days at X, Y, Z Institute. This is amazing. I'm going to come back and I'm going to implement it.’ We're like, ‘Hey, team! We're doing this!’ And the team goes, ‘Yeah. No, we're not.’ Then, two weeks later, you're like, ‘Well, that was a waste.’ You have this beautiful binder that you look at once in a while of information, and you're like, ‘I didn't implement any of that.’ And it has nothing to do with the clinical skills. It has nothing to do with the course. It has all to do with the leadership around vision and alignment.” (23:11—24:04) -Dr. Straub

“When I sold my practice, I easily had over $20,000 of technology on the shelf in my unfinished basement. I'm looking around like, ‘That was $5,000. Never used it. That was $7,000. Tried it for a month. Never used it.’ And it was all back to this: I didn't have the skills, at the time, to deliver the leadership to get it in play.” (24:32—24:54) -Dr. Straub

“The first leadership style is a visionary . . . Visionaries inspire and guide their teams. The energy, enthusiasm, and forward focus that comes from a visionary leader, it's hard to not be inspired as a team to want to help support that person on their mission of where they want to go. They rally support. They build around the brand and really excel in taking people in a new direction and being innovative.” (25:27—25:57) -Miranda

“If I could go back, there would be one thing, for sure, I would do. I would invest in finding out who I was earlier in my career.” (26:07—26:15) -Kirk

“What we know from Primal Leadership is that [the visionary] is the most strongly positive leadership style for team culture, as an impact on team culture . . . It has its downsides. Each one of them does. Sincerity is crucial. If a leader lacks in the belief of the vision themselves, seems disconnected from the impact on the daily realities associated with the team, it's going to diminish the effectiveness of that leadership style.” (27:27—27:54) -Miranda

“The next [leadership style] is coaching . . . Coaching fosters performance by unlocking human potential. Coaching leadership says, ‘I want to make leaders out of everyone on my team. I see potential that other people may not see. I'm going to look on the bright side. I'm going to look for the things that I think are strong within you and see how I can amplify those.’ It’s looking to grow individuals through connection. There is an inspirational component to this, focusing on setting challenging goals and providing constructive feedback.” (28:26—29:07) -Miranda

“Just like with any other leadership style, there can be some negatives [to coaching] if we don't understand ourselves well. So, if you have a lack of genuine interest or empathy in others, it's not going to be as effective. If you're leading in a coaching style to get the goal but not necessarily to develop the players on the field, then you're not going to have as much effectiveness as if you're creating a team that's working towards that whole goal. That's what really works around the coaching style is making sure that it's not just about this end goal, this target, but how can each individual be strengthened so that they can build within the team and work as a team. This also has a highly positive impact on culture when leaders lead from this coaching style.” (29:08—29:54) -Miranda

“Affiliative leaders tend to prioritize harmony. A lot of our doctor-owners, I think, sit in this affiliative land of wanting to make sure that they hear everyone's feelings, take everyone's feelings into consideration when they're making decisions. ‘I don't want anybody to be upset. We don't want to rock the boat.’ This can be really positive, but we also have to be careful that we're not negating providing really important accountability and constructive feedback because we're too concerned about hurting someone's feelings or about our own feelings and how it might feel to provide that feedback. If you're a “diagnosed wuss” — isn't that what Kirk always says — it's hard. It's hard to affect someone else's feelings in a way that you perceive might be negative. So, it is a really positive leadership style. It's important for people to know you care. But there's that other side of it that if we don't have the awareness around this leadership style, it can be a negative and it can be perceived as a negative amongst the team.” (30:07—31:11) -Miranda

“Our next leadership style is democratic. You can see by the image there, this is giving everyone a voice. These are leaders that really want to make collective decisions. They want to have consensus and drive the needle. So, it's less impact on really being perceived as what you would think is a true leader, someone who steps up and says, ‘This is where we're going.’ There are a lot of pros and cons around the democratic leadership style. It does foster transparency and a sense of community. The culture can be really positive in an office that's led by a democratic leader because you're going to get different perspectives that you might not otherwise hear from or get if you have someone who's a bit more commanding. However, we have to be really careful. This can slow things down. When we're waiting for consensus, it really can be time-consuming, and it can make processes slower within the practice to make change.” (31:18—32:11) -Miranda

“Relying too heavily on consensus also can erode confidence. It can make a doctor-leader seem as if they're not confident in leading the team. Maybe they don't know what to do. When, ultimately, they're just trying to take everyone's opinion into consideration, it can be perceived as a lack of confidence in their ability to really lead or know what to do. So, this is still considered a positive style when impacting culture. But there are caveats that we have to be really aware of around that self-awareness piece if we're a democratic leader.” (32:32—33:02) -Miranda

“[The pace setting] type of leader is looking at hitting targets, driving high performance. We want to win. How are we going to be excellent on a consistent basis? It's really suited for environments that are innovative and have a fast-paced growth mindset. However, it can be highly negative on culture. Not always, but it can be more often than not because it's a mis-utilized leadership style. If there's a really strong emphasis on results over people, your team won't feel as cared about, or as important, or as valued in the process. You can't look at employees and negate their development, their role in your vision, and how to get there. If you just set the vision and say, ‘Let's go,’ and they feel like they're just along for the ride, it's not going to feel good to show up to work. Your team members aren't going to get excited to jump out of the car and run into the office. So, we do have to recognize that while it's really important to have targets and goals and things that we're striving for, we do have to make sure that we're building the team into that process.” (33:33—34:39) -Miranda

“The last [leadership] style is commanding. This leadership style prioritizes results through decisive action. I picture leading with the iron fist. This is suitable for situations that do require a lot of clear direction, tough decisions, larger organizations where you have to make quick-paced decisions because there are 600 people in your organization, and we don't have time to run it through every loop in the chain. This person has the fortitude to make bold and often unpopular decisions. It's a tough, tough job when you think about being commanding. There are positives to it, but it's most often a negative influence on culture. So, while it's effective in emergencies, it can affect the team and risk low morale, stress, and talent loss. If your desire to drive is higher than your desire to connect with your team, you're going to have turnover.” (35:51—36:53) -Miranda

“There was a story in [Difficult Conversations Don't Have to Be Difficult] about a leader who was so focused on selling their business and meeting the board's needs in order to get this business sold that they stopped having one-on-ones. They stopped making connections with their team. They started this commanding style of decision-making, pushing, and goal setting to the point where one after one, the executive team came and said, ‘I'm done. You don't even know that my son has been sick for the last month, and I've been struggling to keep my head above water because you don't even look at me as a person anymore.’ So, that's really the fallout that can happen with this commanding style. It's important to be aggressive about wanting to get to your goals, but it's really important to make sure that you're fostering relationships. And there's a note here on this slide. You'll see this can be a very fear-based leadership style. If people are just responding and doing what they're doing because they're afraid of you, that's not a positive impact on your team culture.” (37:06—38:05) -Miranda

“Intelligence quotient is what we all know, IQ. We've heard about it our whole lives. It measures our level of cognitive intelligence. It's a traditional predictor of our potential. It's technical skills and abilities. A lot of times, we say we're born with it. You have this capacity, and that's your capacity when it comes to intelligence or IQ. But EQ is different. Your emotional quotient that measures your emotional intelligence can be learned and developed over time. That score can go up. It's about managing your emotions and managing relationships. If you work on this and invest time and effort into this — just like you do with your clinical skills — you can improve your EQ over time.” (39:37— 40:19) -Miranda

“When I was going through Dale Carnegie training way back in my twenties, they used to tell the story of a post and when you put a nail in the post. Sometimes, you put words into the room or with people, and you can say, ‘I'm sorry,’ and take it back, which means you pull the nail out, but the hole is still there. So, as you start to get older and mature and you grow and develop these things, and you have a coach and you have a great leadership team around you, they can give you feedback to go, ‘I'm not putting the nail in the post today.’ I use an acronym every day. I use it probably ten times a day. You can use it too. It's called WAIT. Why Am I Talking? ‘Okay, there's no reason for me to talk right here.’” (41:48—42:28) -Kirk

“When you're looking at self-awareness, which is the first component of emotional intelligence, you're wanting to look at yourself and be able to name the mood, feeling, or emotion that you're experiencing in this moment. One of the biggest challenges that people have is, how can you improve how you're reacting to something if you don't even know what you're feeling right now? . . . The biggest thing is being able to acknowledge and name what's happening right now. What is the feeling that's causing this reaction within me?” (43:05—43:47) -Miranda

“When you're paper-thin on margin, which means the difference between your limit and load, you're 50% of the human being you could be . . . When I have no money, I'm telling you, I want to be a good person, but I'm biting my lip. When you don't get any sleep, you are biting your lip. This is really important work, but you have to create enough margin with your team, with your systems, with your gaps — I can't say that enough — that you can just go, ‘Okay, we're good,’ and you can fully step into these things.” (45:02—45:38) -Kirk

“How many times have you typed out a text as a reply, and then you go, backspace, backspace, backspace. Delete the whole thing. Did it need to be said? No. That's when you know you are doing the work and it's working. Sometimes, I'll tell team members, ‘If you want to go and vent something, their ears aren't trash cans.’ So, if you're just going to vent, maybe write it out. Get it out of your head, wad it up, and throw it in the trash. Find a way to get it out of you, but maybe it really doesn't need to land on someone else.” (46:19—46:55) -Adriana

“You have to get [your stress] out in some way. Take a walk. Sunshine and the great outdoors do wonders for people when it comes to regulating our emotions. Write it down. You can even go in the bathroom and say it out loud. You're mad. Fine. What am I mad about? What am I going to do? But you have to get it out in some way and cope with it in some way.” (47:58—48:18) -Miranda

“The other thing that you can think about is mindfulness practice. With mindfulness practice, you're wanting to shift from that emotional mind to the logical mind. Do some math. I know it sounds crazy. Do some math. When my son was little, he struggled with emotional balancing, as all kids do. They get irrational. They get kind of crazy, and you can't even talk to them. We'd lay in his bed, and I'm like, ‘How many orange Nerf guns do you have on the wall?’ He would count and tell me, ‘Four.’ ‘Okay. How many blue Nerf guns do you have on the wall?’ And we'd go through. By the time we got done counting up the different colored Nerf guns on the wall, he wasn't crying anymore. He was breathing softer. He wasn't in a panic, emotional, heightened, flooded state anymore because our mind can't be in both places at one time.” (48:18—49:07) -Miranda

“We all have personalities. Part of our personality is this basic instinct, how we think, feel, and act. It's instinctual. It just happens. True emotional intelligence is being able to highlight our core values over this basic, instinctual way to react in our interactions with people. So, that also ties back to Kirk when he says WAIT because, really, what we're trying to do there is lengthen the time period between stimulus and response. The longer the time period between stimulus and response, the healthier the response will be. The shorter the time span, the more unhealthy it potentially will be because we are reacting in our rear brain versus self-managing and being able to express the type of interaction we want.” (49:27—50:19) -Dr. Straub

“Social awareness is your ability to understand the emotional state and the moods of other people and your effect on other people. It's really valuable in a collaborative work environment. Basically, can you read a room? How well do you read a room? There are some people who naturally are gifted at reading a room and getting to know the vibe or the energy of people, and other people have to work a little bit harder at it. But there are strategies that you can do to help improve your ability to have a higher level of social awareness. Really basic is listening skills, having humility, and building on your active listening skills on a consistent basis. The stronger your social awareness becomes, the stronger your relationship management or social management will become.” (51:33—52:19) -Miranda

“The first step in improving your practice culture through leadership is to have self-awareness and to develop your self-awareness to the highest level possible. When you do that, you're establishing stronger trust with your team. You're going to have improved learning and improved development. People are going to be more vested in where you're going as a vision. You're going to be able to be more others-focused. You're going to make clearer decisions and have an elevated level of overall culture when you, as a leader, are aware of your leadership style, your moods, your emotions, and your reactions.” (53:33—54:11) -Miranda

“Start owning your emotions. Remember that self-awareness is the first step in shifting who you are and how you're going to impact your practice culture through your leadership. You have to look at your strengths, and then you also have to look at your limitations or your weaknesses. You learn so much more from them, but it does put you in a very vulnerable place. You have to be willing to put some humility in place, and step aside, and look from the outside in and try not to take it personally.” (59:09—59:36) -Miranda

“Invest heavily in yourself, becoming a better leader. Invest heavily in your culture. Invest heavily in creating happy leaders and a happy team.” (1:02:29—1:02:36) -Kirk

“I love emotional intelligence. It's the missing ingredient in great leadership, and it's a soft science that has very tangible results. So, I don't want anyone to shy away because it's a little intangible and fluffy. It's amazing. And you can't ask people on your team to be something that you yourself are not willing to go after. I couldn't ask my dental team to be cool, calm, and collected when I'm freaking out. We can't ask them to be better leaders than we ourselves are. We've got to do the work at home first.” (1:03:18—1:03:59) -Dr. Straub

“As goes the leader, so goes the team. I firmly believe that the biggest problems that happen in a practice — and Kirk always says it's not your problems that are the problems, it's how you think about your problems. And that's true. It's how you think about your problems. Because if you're thinking about “the problem”, that execution piece, we have to back up several steps and look at our vision, look at our core values, and look at our core purpose. Are we making the right calls? How am I showing up every single day? It's not always about what everybody else is doing and how they're showing up. It's usually a reflection on me as the leader. It starts with leadership first. It starts at the top. We have to be aligned and self-aware. So, if nothing else, go forth and become more self-aware.” (1:04:08—1:04:53) -Miranda


0:00 Introduction.

1:33 About ACT’s TTT and BPA.

7:01 Culture, explained.

10:09 Leadership, explained.

12:20 Who is considered a leader?

14:31 Intentionally champion positive culture.

19:36 Create vision and alignment.

21:50 What type of leader are you?

23:01 CE alone won't get you very far.

25:21 Six leadership styles: The visionary.

28:26 Six leadership styles: Coaching.

29:55 Six leadership styles: Affiliative.

31:18 Six leadership styles: Democratic.

33:03 Six leadership styles: Pace setting.

35:51 Six leadership styles: Commanding.

38:51 What would your team say is your leadership style?

39:21 IQ versus EQ.

40:19 Emotional intelligence and self-awareness, explained.

45:39 Find ways to regulate your emotions.

51:22 Develop self-awareness and social awareness.

54:11 Ways to improve self-awareness.

58:43 Final thoughts.

Miranda Beeson, MS, BSDH Bio:

Miranda Beeson, MS, BSDH, has over 25 years of clinical dental hygiene, front office, practice administration, and speaking experience. She is enthusiastic about communication and loves helping others find the power that words can bring to their patient interactions and practice dynamics. As a Lead Practice Coach, she is driven to create opportunities to find value in experiences and cultivate new approaches.

Miranda graduated from Old Dominion University, and enjoys spending time with her husband, Chuck, and her children, Trent, Mallory, and Cassidy. Family time is the best time, and is often spent on a golf course, a volleyball court, or spending the day boating at the beach.

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.