Lessons in Leadership

We have the privilege of working with the forward-thinking leaders in this industry. So when the opportunity presented itself, it seemed like a natural fit with our business mandate to host an evening with Lee Cockerell, the former Executive VP of Operations with Disney. Many of the leaders in the room have already adopted most of the principles discussed by Mr. Cockerell. As with any continuing education opportunity, however, there is always something we can take from it to grow and be better for knowing it.

One of the big messages from Mr. Cockerell was:  Leaders “be” and managers “do”. The fundamentals of being a good leader are simple. For Lee, some of these fundamentals are:

  • Ensure that associates are knowledgeable about their roles
  • Implement effective, structured processes for getting work done
  • Actively observe and react to the performance of your team and take time for recognition, coaching and counselling
  • Demonstrate a passionate, professional commitment to your role in the show

Actually doing what you have to do to be a good leader is much more difficult.

Ensuring that your staff understands their role and the responsibilities associated with it requires some dedicated time to writing out all the tasks that need to be completed in the office. Next, you need to assign those tasks to a role in the office. Once you have defined what tasks are associated with each role, you should sit with each team member and review the responsibilities. If there are tasks on the list that the team member is not comfortable performing, you need to figure out how to close the gap. This could come in the form of training through a 3rd party or it could be training from another team member.

Once all the tasks have been identified and assigned to a team member, you need to document how each task should be performed in your office. A good example is your accounts receivable process. Document step by step how you would like this task completed so that someone can follow along and check off the boxes as they get them completed.

It is easy in the busyness of the day to day to forgot to circle back on a regular basis to give feedback to your employees. For many, a word of recognition of a job well done is as rewarding as a pay raise! For others who are struggling in their roles, you need to spend time evaluating what the barriers are and trying to address them. It could be that more education is required or it could be that this role just isn’t a great fit for their skill set. And as hard as that conversation is to have, it is has to be had.  As other employees watch a toxic relationship develop, no matter what the cause, if the leader doesn’t stand up and address it, the rest of the team will lose morale.

Lastly, the importance of being an involved, interested leader cannot be stressed enough. How you engage with patients and staff will set the tone for everyone’s performance in the office. If there is a staff member who is arriving to work late every day, address it and be sure to arrive to the office early yourself! Introduce your patients to your staff in a way that builds confidence in both.

As you look at your week ahead in your practice, consciously think about what will you do and how will you be. Being a great leader takes a lot of energy and time. I hope you will take some time to reflect on what you are doing well in these fundamentals and what steps you can take to do better in others.


is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.


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