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389: Growing Leaders Around You

A hearty welcome to Brittany Stone, the Dental A-Team’s newest consultant! In this episode, Brittany and Kiera chat leadership, an ever-hot topic. Specifically, the duo talks about identifying and finding leaders among your team and giving them opportunities to grow. 

The specifics:

  • How to find different types of leaders — FYI, you don’t have to be outgoing to be a good leader

  • How to execute leadership strategies with these potentials

  • And what to do if that potential leader falls short

More on Brittany:

I have spent my life in and around the dental field. Raised by a dental assistant, my training started young and my journey in dentistry continues as I strive to help teams realize their dreams!

Working in dentistry for over 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of structures from small to large and private practice to dental support organizations. I have learned how the organization and management of an office impact the lives of each team member and patient. I have studied healthcare administration while working most positions in a dental office including hygiene lead, coach, and office manager. This helps me bring an understanding of driving value and patient care to help dental teams cultivate a fulfilling work environment. 

Episode resources:

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Podcast Transcript:

Kiera Dent:

Hey everyone. Welcome to The Dental A Team podcast. I'm your host Kiera Dent. And I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, biller, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants where we have traveled to over 165 different offices, coaching teams. Yep. We don't just understand you. We are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental. And I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A teams. Welcome to The Dental A Team podcast.

            Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera. And you guys, oh, snap. You're going to love who I brought onto the podcast today, because guess what? She can physically fly to your practice. This is our newest Dental A Team consultant, Brittany Stone. You guys, she's got an impressive background, like more impressive than myself and Tiffanie. She's so incredible. She brings a dynamic that neither of us have. So she has done it all, front office, treatment coordinator, regional manager, office manager, plus billing. Plus she has also been a hygienist. So I am so jazzed. She's born and bred dental. Brittany, how are you today, my dear?

Brittany Stone:

I'm doing fantastic. How are you Kiera?

Kiera Dent:

So good. It's so fun to have you. You are traveling to practices. You've gone to practices with me. You've gone to practices solo. You're like a traveling machine right now. So how's that feeling going from full-time in office to now full-time consultant? How was that shift and change for you?

Brittany Stone:

I mean, for sure it's been a shift. It makes me know that for sure I love being in offices and being able to work with teams. I miss my team a little bit back over in Virginia, but I'm happy to be out meeting new people and enjoying all these offices we get to work with.

Kiera Dent:

So fun. Yeah. How long were you with your last practice before you left?

Brittany Stone:

So I was with them for five years.

Kiera Dent:

Awesome. And they knew you were going to leave. You were out in Washington, DC area. You're an Arizona native. So you were coming on back, you miss your hot, hot, hot summers, but that's got to be a shift. And I know cause consulting, we do a lot of remote work, you guys. So we do a lot of virtual consulting. We do a lot of in-person consulting, but I think there is a massive shift. It's really cool to think about working from home. It's really cool to think about building your own schedule, but I know I struggled. Now I've gotten into my rhythm and groove, but Brit, I'm sure for you, it was kind of that weird shift into, "Okay. Wow. I'm working from home. I don't have team members around me all the time," and you really look forward to those coaching calls because you actually get to interact with humans.

Brittany Stone:

For sure. I would say blessing of COVID kind of prepared me for it after being the one and only in the office for a while handling those phone calls. So I learned that to handle a little isolation as I'm sure many of our listeners did.

Kiera Dent:

Yes. Well, I am so grateful to have you. You've already proven to be just incredible. And I mean that in the details, in the organization, in the knowledge and experience that you have. You and I went to a practice that I've been working with for almost two years and that team on your first visit loved you, gravitated towards you, trusted you, which I think just speaks volumes of who you are as a person. So Brittany, I've kind of raved about your resume. Walk us through your dental experience and your history that you've had. And then we're going to pivot to leadership, which is always a hot topic. So kind of walk us through your story of how you got to being a Dental A Team consultant.

Brittany Stone:

Sure. I'd love to. So I do say that I grew up in dentistry. I'm kind of a lifer. My mom is a dental assistant, so grew up around the dental office. We talked, as you know, dental at meals and all sorts of fun times that aren't normal conversation for everybody else.

Kiera Dent:

Why do dental people talk about extractions and root canals at dinner? Like, you know that that's who you are, so just own it, but like why? Why do we do this?

Brittany Stone:

It's just, we love it so much, Kiera.

Kiera Dent:

That's got to be, that's got to be, always.

Brittany Stone:

And a sister that's a hygienist, so we're just kind of your dental family. So I grew up around it, loved it, loved being able to help people and be in health care and decided to go to hygiene school. So went to Northern Arizona university up here in Flagstaff, Arizona. I went to hygiene school, worked as a hygienist for 10 years, both in Arizona and then also being out in the DC area and Northern Virginia. And then I've always just wanted more, wanted to contribute and help the team as much as possible. So I did go and study healthcare administration to learn a little bit more about the business side of things, and then ended up managing a practice and loved having a large team there, a big office that was bustling and just so much fun.

            And I think just from my experience, I wanted to be able to go out and help other people. And I enjoy solving problems and seeing new things. So consulting was kind of a natural next step for me, kind of what I always wanted to do. And like you said, my practice knew ultimately I was going to move on to something else. And this was definitely something that I wanted to do is to go out and help other offices.

Kiera Dent:

Awesome.

            Hello, Dental A Team listeners. All right. One of my absolute favorite quotes is, "You are always one decision away from a totally different life." So what life do you want to have? Do you want more accountability? Do you want a team that's trained? Do you want to have somebody who thinks outside the box and creates just for you? Do you want to have a coach? Do you want to have team training? Do you just need somebody to kick you in the rear and get you going?

            Okay. Don't worry. I'm in every single one of those boxes and that's why we created Dental A Team, silver, gold, and platinum. It's going to be customized team training for you on the terms you want. So silver, silver is more for accountability. Gold, gold includes all of our online training. Plus the accountability and platinum includes all of that and in office. You guys, I would strongly suggest you go join Dental A Team gold today because you're always one decision away from a totally different life. So what are you waiting for? Hop on over to the DentalATeam.com today. You guys, we only have so many spaces. So get over there today and sign up for Dental A Team, silver, gold, or platinum.

            I love it. And I feel so lucky. I mean, all the stars aligned for you to work with Dental A Team. The day I interviewed you, you said where you were at. Tiffanie had just flown to where you were at. You drove to meet Tiffanie in person, I think the next day. So you and Tiff got to meet. Then you were moving back to Arizona. You came to Dental A Team summit. So a lot of you, I know, saw Brittany there. Then you've been able to travel with me. So, and I will just say you were one of the easiest travelers, guys, but she will not do karaoke in case you ever want to know. Our radio, in a car, that we were in, did not have a radio. I don't know why it was broken and we didn't discover it until we were far past the rental car station because you know, that's how cool we are.

            I'm pretty confident we were on coaching calls or something like that. And so Britt and I had a nice hour and a half drive together if not two hours. And I kept teasing Brittany, that we should either podcast or karaoke. So here we are podcasting today, but Britt has a lot of incredible talents. And I'm just so, so excited to have you. You've already brought so much structure and ideas to Dental A Team, which is really fun.

            So today's podcast, I know you had wanted to talk about some leadership, which I'm so excited about because I feel like it's a hot topic. I know I'm always searching for more leadership and Brittany, I will say, meeting you, I feel like you really just have a very polished, poised leadership style. You mentioned that your hygienists really valued you and didn't ever feel like you were making them be these producing machines. Yet you were running this insanely profitable practice. And I feel like your team felt like you were very fair. I just feel like you have this Zen about you that also inspires people to want to do more. So let's talk about your topic on leadership of, I think it was like identifying and building leadership traits in others. Is that correct?

Brittany Stone:

Yeah, that's what I was wanting to chat about today. I think in dentistry sometimes because we're in our own little worlds and just doing our thing, running along with our day, sometimes we can miss out on those great team members that we have come through, who are great leaders and just need an opportunity to really shine.

Kiera Dent:

For sure. So let's talk about that because I mean, like you said, we are all busy. We all do legitimately run from day to day to day and then it's that matter of, okay, how do you spot this? How do you identify it? So I'm so excited for this. I've been like giddy, since you told me the topic. So walk us through, how did you identify team members? What can you do? Because I know this is a hot topic for a lot of offices.

Brittany Stone:

Yeah. So when it comes to the type of leader I enjoy being, I am definitely a collaborative one. So I'm going to ask team members for help when things come up and I'm looking for those people that come up with some great ideas. They're my problem solvers and willing to share, and those are going to be some of the people that I'm like, "Okay, I see you. You come up with some great ideas." And then those are also the people that I want to allow to spearhead some solutions and give them the opportunity to take that on and to take ownership of it and see how they do. So definitely those problem solvers are people that I'm looking for. And then also people who are good communicators and communicate in a way that's empowering to others, I think is a really important quality of those leaders.

Kiera Dent:

Agreed. So let's dive into this. The problem-solvers, amen, in a practice. And I would take it one step further if they're the problem solvers and the follow-througher. So they are the ones...

Brittany Stone:

Good point.

Kiera Dent:

[crosstalk 00:09:54] because I love when people are willing to take it on, but it's really discouraging when they take it on and don't follow-through, because then you're like, "Agh. You just said you would do this, but now I've got to come back to you and follow up with you." So it's the people that you know you can count on that are going to come up with the great ideas and execute to completion. Those are already budding, blooming leaders. You just need to give them the right, I guess, environment and they will blossom hardcore. And I think it's fine. Team members also look at yourselves to see am I that person who takes the initiative to come up with great ideas in our meetings and do I follow-through?

            Because I think team members often think, "Well, I wasn't born a leader. I'm not a great leader. How could I ever be a leader?" And I actually disagree. I think a lot of leadership is nurture versus nature. I don't think you have to necessarily be built with leadership qualities because I think leadership is a lifelong journey. Not a, you were just dropped out of the heavens, dipped in gold with leadership abilities. I really think it's something you've got to practice and hone in on. So Brittany, the next piece you said is, gosh, like I wanted to say, they're also the ones let's go to this whole point of they're the ones who come up with great ideas. So give an example of a meeting and the great ideas that you see that you really love in meetings.

Brittany Stone:

Yeah. So bringing any of those like hot topics to meetings, I always come to it with everybody from the team brings a really important, unique perspective and they can see solutions to things that I won't be able to see from my seat all the time. And so bringing, maybe it's a scheduling issue that's going on that we have cancellations or maybe the schedule is not flowing quite as well. And maybe one of my front desk team members has an idea of, "Hey, if we did it this way, I think it would really make our days run smoother." And so allowing them to kind of build it and work together with me on it and also setting some expectations for them on, okay, let's get this solution, let's get the idea all put together, buttoned up, ready to present to the team by a certain date.

            And then I'm going to allow them to go back to the team and present it to the team of what the solution is, how to teach them about it. And then I've got their back a 100% as we move forward on that solution. So yeah, so we can really give them a chance to shine. And I think to your point, not everybody is just made to be a leader. I think people have a lot of really great qualities, but they need the opportunity to be that leader. And so that's the way through problem solving that you can give them a chance to see that, one, they can do it and they build their confidence in leading as well.

Kiera Dent:

For sure, because I think that that's one of the reasons that people don't want to lead is they don't want to step up. They don't want to be the one who's embarrassed if something doesn't go right. Also, I remember when somebody said with leadership, like the successes are a lot of you and the failures are you as well. Your team is a direct reflection of that leadership. So I love that you said they bring ideas, they come with it. And I really think it almost stems to like a good way to button all this up in a pretty phrase, if you will, is I think it's that they take ownership and pride of the practice that they're in. You can be a silent leader. You don't have to be the one who's outgoing. A lot of times I see leaders who, and Brittany, I feel like you kind of have this, where you are almost behind the scenes. I don't know how to describe your aura, your presence, but you kind of are just like sitting back, watching, seeing things, and then executing behind the scenes with a very fair, direct purpose.

            You're not the one who has to be loud and outgoing and star of the show, which I know I often can tend to be that more personality. And so I think it's important. The reason I bring that up is, again, I want people to see that you can have whatever personality you are and still lead and direct. You don't have to be a loud, outgoing, outspoken, bubbly person to be a strong leader. Brittany, do you have any thoughts on that, because I know I see that often with you, and I oftentimes think that you might even be a stronger leader than I am with your more subtle, poised, directed leadership style?

Brittany Stone:

Yeah. And I would say for me, especially initially, I don't think I would have seen myself as a leader because I am that more quiet person. And I prefer not to have the spotlight most of the time, but I value people and I value my teams and I want them to be as successful as possible. And so I think that's where my drive for the leadership comes. And I think that a lot of different personalities have that drive in there, it just may not look the same as everybody else. And I'm super passionate about, that's why part of the topic I think, is identifying leaders because sometimes that person, and I can say I was one of those, we need a little encouragement to get out of our shell and to really be able to blossom into the leader that we have the potential to be.

Kiera Dent:

Agreed. And I think a lot of times as leaders, one of the most important things that we can do is actually identify other leaders. And I know for years, I had to realize that I should always be training somebody to replace me. I should always be grooming somebody into the next leader of their practice. I should be giving people opportunities while silently sitting back and just watching to see who will naturally take the initiative, who will naturally execute on these projects and then giving them more and more opportunities. And I also think complimenting them on that so they continue to blossom and bloom in that realm.

Brittany Stone:

Yeah, definitely providing that feedback and encouragement. And I think being able, as for me as a leader, growing other people around me, being able to give them that honest opinion, that I really do care about them and I see their potential and I see that there's some things that would help them out, so that they can have that information to then build themselves as well, and then just encourage, encourage, encourage.

Kiera Dent:

Amen. Totally agree. Can't agree with that more. So let's pivot, point number two. How do we execute on that one, Brittany?

Brittany Stone:

Yeah, so really I think growing those leaders comes down to having a conversation with those people that you see the potential in as well, giving them tasks of course is going to help, but actually sitting down, having that conversation and seeing where they want to go and what they want to be. I think a lot of leaders have an internal drive to really do well and to contribute. And especially some of your silent leaders, they may have that drive. They may just need to see the ways in which they can impact the people around them. And that's through opportunities that you give them to take on projects or to lead team members or to help with solutions around the practice. And so I think really having that conversation and identifying that with them and then helping to set some goals and invest in some training or reading books or whatever else that you can do to help edify them.

Kiera Dent:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I really love the thought of having that conversation. And I want to tactically break that down of, I don't think you necessarily have to say like, "Okay, Brittany. I see you as a great leader. Do you want to be a leader?"

Brittany Stone:

Yeah.

Kiera Dent:

I think it's more asking the probing questions of, "Hey Brit, tell me kind of where you see yourself in the next 1, 3, 5 years? What's kind of on your radar. What are some of the things that you would love to do if you could just dream big personally and professionally?" And I'm big on the personal and professional and the reason why is, because I think sometimes you actually learn more about people when you find out where they want to go personally, because professionally often feels scripted and they want to say what they think you're looking for. And so that's often why when I'm looking for somebody in this leadership realm, asking that personal professional, they might be headed there, or they might say, "My plan is to move in the next two years." And I go, "Okay, got it." Maybe you were going to divert our efforts and have somebody else there. So I really love that you said, have that conversation.

            I know I have a doctor right now and there are two front office team members and there's one who just by nature already is acting as office manager. There's no office manager in this practice, but there's one team member who just flourishes. And she is the one who will respond to my emails. She'll make sure things get implemented. She is the implementer of the practice and the one who thinks outside the box of how do we fix this? How do we do this? How do we grow this? That is your driver of a practice. And so the doctor and I were chatting and he's like, "I just don't know Kiera. I don't know how to build her up."

            And I said, "Well, one of the worst things you can do is, is to not recognize what she's doing, because that's also going to then lead to burnout." And I said, "You've got to give her kudos and credit because otherwise it's going to build resentment that she's doing literally five times as much as the other team member." Because guess what? Team members feel that in your drivers, they're going to just naturally keep driving. But oftentimes they really do look for that recognition to see docs that you're seeing what they're putting into play, cause that will keep spurring them to continue to do well. So that was step one.

            Step two, as I said, "Let's make sure she really will follow-through and execute." So I had that doctor specifically start to give tasks off of his plate to this front desk team member, just to see, will she execute? Will she get things done? Will she follow-through? So we've almost been like priming the pump for her to be office manager while testing her in that role already without giving her the title.

            And I think at our next visit, we're going to actually morph her specifically into that role. I'm not positive, which is why I have tried to keep this practice vague, give details that are maybe from another practice, so they don't know which practice I'm actually talking about. But that really is a way to grow a leader in my opinion. And to have that conversation plus then actually execute on leading. So Brittany, I'm going to ask the question, what do you do if this future potential leader drops the ball and they don't execute? What do you do then? Do you have a conversation? Do you just like cut them loose and say, "This isn't the right thing for them."? What do you do in those instances when you may have thought you identified it, but then they keep letting you down?

Brittany Stone:

Yeah, I think in that situation, I think it comes back to another conversation. I think we just don't give up, but we take a look at what happened and really talk to that person. See what's the reason why it didn't happen and look at the situation that's not right now. It's not looking at them as a individual. Let's just talk about what ask did I make? Did you have the information you needed to be able to complete the task? Or what struggles did you come across that kept you from meeting that task to see if it was something that was built with in the expectation that could have been better.

            And also it might be just helping that individual identify it might be something that they can work on or you might be able to give them some solutions on things that will help them accomplish that task in the future. So I think just continuing to invest with it, if you really see the potential in that person and having open conversations with them and just reiterating the expectation and making sure you guys are on the same page for the expectations.

Kiera Dent:

For sure. And as you said that it made me think of another factor that I look for in leadership that I think ties right into what you've already said. And that is somebody who has quote/unquote thicker skin that can actually take feedback and what do they do with that feedback? So do they get upset? Do their feathers get ruffled? Do they shut down or do they take it in stride and learn from it and become better? Because ultimately at the end of the day, I think leadership's a lot about being able to morph and change and evolve, and I would say refine, you as a person. And so really checking to see how do they do with that feedback, because honestly, your leaders in your practice, you have to be able to have straightforward conversations with, you've got to be able to be direct without having feelings hurt, obviously done in a professional manner.

            And so I would also check for that of how do they take these conversations? How do they do this feedback? And I'm also going to add that leaders growing other leaders, don't be afraid to give people opportunity because I've seen so many times when say a strong office manager leaves the practice and they go manage another practice. You all of a sudden have these leaders pop out of the woodwork who were never there. And I think oftentimes it's because some leaders are so afraid to let other people shine, that they don't give people enough opportunities to impress them because they're always so concerned that they're going to let them down.

Brittany Stone:

And I think that's, with communicating and also empowering others and turning other people up. I think it's just being able to keep your ego in check. It exists there for all of us and it's just your ability to manage that so that it doesn't actually hold you back.

Kiera Dent:

Yep, exactly. So I love that you said that a great book for leaders, Ego is the Enemy or No Ego. Those are two fantastic books. Britt, I love what you just talked about of identifying and finding leaders and then giving them opportunities to grow. I think this is prime. I think it's paramount. And I think every office, every office manager, every doctor, every one of you should be looking for leaders within your practice, around you and helping to grow them into that more. And team members, look at yourself. Look to see how you can grow more in that leadership realm.

            I am a firm believer that those who put in the effort, opportunities will arise, but that doesn't mean they're going to be handed to in your lap. You might need to seek it out. You might need to go ask your office manager or your direct lead, "Hey, I want to be more involved in this practice. What are some things that I can do?" Or better yet, bring three ideas that you could do to make the practice better and start executing, implementing, and following through. I will say the accountability and the follow-through are huge aspects of growing within a practice. So, Britt, I love this topic. I thought you did such a great job, so many brilliant pieces, any last thoughts that you want to leave our listeners with today?

Brittany Stone:

I would just add that team members who are listening to this, I think we've got so many great people out there in dentistry and so many leaders that are just waiting for opportunities. So I think Kiera said, take a look inside yourself. If that's something that you really want to be, or you really want to cultivate in yourself, make sure you take the opportunities or ask for the opportunities.

Kiera Dent:

Amen. All right, you guys, this is Brittany. She is traveling to practices. She is incredible. She is one of the best consultants I have ever met. I'm so excited to have her on our team. I'm excited for what you brought today. You guys, please, please, please listen up. Develop those leaders. And if you guys are struggling with leadership, that's what the Dental A Team was made for. We literally train and develop leadership teams. So, so many of our practices, it's not just all about the system, it's literally creating and developing leaders within your practice, identifying that talent, giving them tools and resources, letting them fail, letting them thrive, letting them excel, but truly developing leaders within your practice. So it's not all dependent on you.

            So if that's of any interest to you, email us [email protected] That typically is our platinum or our gold practices that we develop these leadership talents in and Britt, as always, thank you for being here. Thanks for being on our team. So excited for what's yet to come.

Brittany Stone:

Thanks for having me.

Kiera Dent:

Of course. All right, you guys, as always, thank you for listening and we'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team podcast.

And that wraps it up for another episode of the Dental A Team podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.

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