Article Date: 3/1/2012

Beyond BCVA: Thorough Vision Assessment For Retinal Physicians
o.d. to o.d.

How to Get Started as an Effective Leader

Running a successful practice depends on your abilities to lead your staff. Begin by following these four guidelines.

BY Walter D. West, O.D., F.A.A.O. Chief Optometric Editor

One topic that goes hand-in-hand with practice management is how being successful as a practitioner is tied to your ability to lead your staff. Your staff looks to you for direction, encouragement and motivation to be the best they can be.

Leadership is a quality that many people think they have, some wish they had, and others recognize they lack. There’s no quick fix to improving leadership skills, but here are a few areas where you can evaluate your performance to see whether there is an opportunity to improve.

1. Lose the ego

First, and most importantly, you must put your ego in check. Truly great leaders do not lead for their own benefit. Rather, they lead to support the efforts of those who follow. Great leaders are known for the accomplishments of those in their organization.

Next, focus on creating positive relationships. Part of being an effective leader is the ability to influence others. To get your staff to follow your lead, they first have to get along with you as well as their fellow staff members.

2. Commit to improvement

Another important area is the quest for self-improvement, as well as the improvement of your practice. No one respects or follows “average,” at least not for long.

As a leader, you influence others not only with your skills and talents, but also with your passion and dedication for even the simplest of tasks. Leading by example is perhaps the easiest, most natural and most effective practice that exists.

The leaders we remember long after they’re gone all helped the people in their organizations live better lives, reach beyond their comfort zones and accomplish things that the individuals may not have ever dreamed possible. The highest calling of leadership is in what you help others become.

3. Seek insight from your staff

Regardless of intelligence and experience, leaders always seek insight and advice from staff. Decisions you make after considering the input and experiences of your staff are always superior to those you make alone.

Once you’ve made a decision after considering the input from your staff, deflect the praise aimed at you to your staff. As a leader, praise and positive recognition should always be passed along to your staff. And, I would even suggest that you shield your staff from criticism and negative comments. As the leader in your practice, you are ultimately responsible for your practice’s performance. Never use your staff as the object of blame.

4. Follow “the best policy”

Above all else, be forthright in every way. Your staff must know that you’re always honest, even in those situations in which doing the right thing is to your disadvantage.

Following the four guidelines I’ve presented here is not all that is involved in becoming a successful leader. They are merely a place to start. But to start is the beginning of a journey that pays great dividends to you as well as those you lead — your staff. OM

Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: March 2012, page(s): 4