To help you become the kind of leader you want to be, follow these ten principles of leadership:
1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement. In order to know yourself, you have to understand your own personal attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through reading, self-study, classes, etc.
2. Be technically proficient. As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees’ jobs, especially in the changing optical industry where keeping ahead of the competition regarding new products and technology can significantly impact revenue.
3. Search for ways to guide your practice to new heights. And when things go wrong (they will sooner or later), do not blame your employees. Look at problems as process problems, not people problems. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
4. Make sound and timely decisions. Use good problem solving, decision-making, and planning tools. Force yourself to think through a situation carefully to prevent errors in judgment. Make sure you have the right information to make a good decision.
5. Set the example. Be a good role model for your employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. When they hear and see you interacting with a patient that demonstrates a real concern for their well-being, they will more likely emulate and imitate your behavior. Practice what you preach or no one will take what is preached very seriously.
6. Know your people and look out for their well-being. You don’t have to be intimately involved in their personal lives to know that someone on your staff is having a problem. A simple, “How are things going?” expressed with genuine concern goes a long way to making an employee feel you care about their well-being.
7. Keep your people informed. Know how to communicate with your employees. People don’t like surprises. If you are running an ad in the local newspaper about a special promotion for contact lenses, give your employees advanced notice of when the ad will appear and the details of the campaign so they can handle calls and patients appropriately and professionally.
8. Develop a sense of responsibility in your people. Develop good character traits within your people that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities. When a patient complaint is not handled in a timely fashion, sit down with the employee and coach them about the importance of follow- through and the effect of a patient’s negative experience on the practice.
9. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. Communication is the key to this responsibility because your employees must know their job requirements if they are to meet them. In the absence of correct information about a task, people will do what they think is necessary and acceptable. Communication is the only way they will get that information. Communication increases understanding. If understanding is lacking, you’re sure to fail.
10. Train your people as a team. Don’t call your practice a team if you believe they are just a group of people doing their jobs. Use the full capabilities of your employees whether your staff numbers four or 14. By developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your practice to its fullest capabilities.