Leading a dental practice is not easy during good times. We need to balance several factors to serve people well, including patient care, business operations, and team leadership.

But when times are challenging, it becomes even harder to lead ourselves and others. There’s no arguing that times are challenging right now. The covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for dental practices.

So while we are facing unprecedented challenges that doesn’t mean we can’t lead our teams well. Here are three ways to lead well no matter how challenging a time you are going through.

Do not allow the unacceptable to be acceptable.

The best leaders set healthy core values for their practices. Those core values are not just important during good times. They’re also important—even more important—during challenging times.

Leaders know that challenging times are not a time to run from our core values. They’re a time to run toward our core values and not accept behavior we wouldn’t accept during good times. If our core values include treating team members and patients with respect, we cannot accept disrespectful treatment being accepted in challenging times. 

Look for opportunities to grow as a leader.

Gary Kadi shared a story with us about being bigger than our circumstances in the Dental Hub 360 training portal. In it, he discusses how challenging times don’t happen to you, they happen for you.

Our team members know we’re going through challenges. They are as scared as we are. They face challenges at home and in our practices. And they face these challenges, like we do, during good times and challenging ones.

When going through challenging times, look for opportunities to grow. What can you become better at? What can skills can you sharpen? How can you grow as a person and as a leader? Take online courses. Read books that challenge you. Engage in deep conversations with team members, friends, and family members about how you can improve as a leader.

They will appreciate the sincere effort to grow more than ever.

Be grateful for the challenges.

Nobody likes challenges in the midst of them. But we know they make us stronger in the end. We learn more about ourselves. We learn more about our practices. We learn more about our community. We learn more about our family. We learn more about our team members. That knowledge, alone, makes us stronger in the future because we know exactly what we and others are capable of when faced with a challenge.

Our challenges also give us valuable perspective. Smaller challenges are put into perspective. And the steps we take to overcome challenges become clearer. One of the most stressful parts of challenges is the uncertainty they create. We don’t know how we’re going to overcome them or how they will affect us and our practices. After getting through them, we might not know how we will get through challenges in the future but we know we will. That perspective is powerful and makes us better leaders.

How do you lead through challenging times?

How has this season of greater challenges impacted your leadership? Leading during challenging times is hard. But it can make us better and more impactful leaders if we stay true to our core values, take opportunities to grow, and keep a mindset and perspective of gratitude.

If you need help, join thousands of dental colleagues in the Dental Hub 360 Facebook group working together to help each other thrive.