what’s the difference between being a boss and a leader?

Being a practice owner means that you own an asset, if you work in the practice too it means that by default you are the ‘Boss’, you call the shots – you get the car parking space and your coffee is almost always served on time. When you introduce the concept of business management and if you decide that you are going to manage the practice, then this is all about building procedures and processes to ensure the smooth running of the practice. Being an owner or a manager is not the same as being a leader. Every business or practice needs a leader too. A leader provides the oil that enables the practice engine to work effectively, a leader enables the practice to not just to function but to ‘perform’, a leader determines the happiness level within the practice.

How do you rate yourself as a leader?

Try the following exercise on yourself, mark yourself out of 10 – be honest!



  1. Lead by example? – Like it or not, you set the standards. If you show up late, you give your team permission to show up late, if you gossip, if you are rude to patients, if you are untidy, if you over-promise and under-deliver, you give your team permission to do the same. If there is a problem with your team, it’s because there is a problem with your leadership. If you consistently set a high standard of behaviour your team will really understand what is expected of them. Mark yourself out of 10.
  2. Listen well, communicate well? – Leaders inspire their teams by the way they listen and by the way they communicate their vision, every day. People are longing to be lead and so many practices fail to deliver because of poor communication by the principal. A wise man once said: “All problems exist in the absence of a good conversation!” Mark yourself out of 10.
  3. Remove tolerations? – It’s the little things that are wrong that drain our energy. Small discourtesies, stuff that doesn’t work properly, things that don’t get done well enough eventually exhaust us. Removing these irritants from your life will massively improve your energy, your attitude and will make you a better leader. Mark yourself out of 10.
  4. Show genuine appreciation? – It is, of course, important to recognise shortcomings in team members so they can be helped to improve. The other side of this coin is appreciating their strengths. Appreciation must not only be felt, it must be exhibited. Great leaders do not sit in their surgeries, smiling to themselves about how great their teams are. They go out and tell their teams how great they are doing! Mark yourself out of 10.
  5. Train, consult, coach and mentor your team? – Leaders are essential in helping team members develop new skills, eradicate their weaknesses and build on their strengths. The leader should provide the tools and support for the team to deliver top quality care. Mark yourself out of 10.
  6. Inspire people? – Working to the highest possible standards takes dedication and vigilance. An inspirational leader will not only keep the team energised, but also communicate his or her unique vision and engender a focused, confident culture at the practice. Mark yourself out of 10.
  7. Innovative? – Fresh and exciting ideas will not only keep your team on its toes, but will promote constant improvement. By breaking the old routine, and adventuring beyond your (and their) comfort zones, dental teams become more confident and will approach their job with more enthusiasm. Mark yourself out of 10.
  8. Consistency – To err is human, but a great leader will always uphold the highest standards. If a mistake happens, learn from it and blame a system, not a person. Apologise quickly and fully to your client and make recompense. Successful practices offer their patients a great experience. Anything less and your clients will vote with their money and their feet. Mark yourself out of 10.

​When you have scored yourself, keep a copy of it and measure your improvement over the next 3 months. Repeat every quarter, if you don’t do anything else in terms of improving your practices performance. Do this and it will change you in a very positive way, critically it will sustain the change and significantly improve the performance of your practice and the happiness of your team and yourself.

If you want to discuss your scores with me drop me an email jonathan.fine@breathebusiness.co.uk or call me on 07860 672727

Best wishes



Jonathan Fine

Director of Marketing

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