20 May 2024  •  Blog, Practice Management  •  5min read By  • Mark Topley

Six Key Focuses to Becoming a Great Boss

In this guest blog, Dental Business Coach, Mark Topley, shares the top six priorities for great leadership.

In what is an increasingly dynamic business landscape this year, effective leadership is going to be more crucial than ever. The challenges of employment and the need for resilience in the workplace highlight the importance of being an exceptional boss.

If you have found yourself in a leadership position by accident rather than design, you may well be wondering how on earth it got so tough, so quickly. Leading in normal times may have been occasionally frustrating, but it was OK. Now things are different, and they will be different for the foreseeable future. And so, we need to step up.

How can you learn what you need to do when there aren’t enough hours in the day, and you don’t know where to start?

I understand how you feel. I have been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to lead in difficult times and step up when you don’t feel equipped. Without any formal leadership training, I’ve successfully led teams for over 20 years, developing my leadership knowledge and skills in the field. And from this experience, I’ve spent some time thinking through the key factors that a leader needs to pay attention to if they’re going to increase their leadership confidence fast.

Develop your Inner Boss

Developing your “Inner Boss” is about taking command of your own professional journey. It involves building self-awareness, understanding your strengths and areas for improvement. Managing your energy effectively is key, ensuring you’re focused and productive. It’s also about the importance of continuous personal development, encouraging leaders to actively seek growth opportunities and enhance their skills. Embracing these aspects helps create a leader who is self-directed and resilient, capable of navigating the complexities of modern leadership.

Set the tone

Setting the right tone revolves around establishing a work environment underpinned by positive behaviour, values, and expectations. A leader’s behaviour sets a precedent, influencing team dynamics and the workplace ethos. Upholding and communicating core values fosters a culture of respect and integrity. Clear expectations are equally vital, providing a framework for accountability and excellence. This alignment of behaviour, values, and expectations by a leader cultivates a productive, harmonious, and principled workplace, setting the stage for both individual and collective success.

Connecting people with vision and mission

“Connecting people with vision and mission” involves transitioning from a dry mission statement to a more engaging and emotionally resonant narrative. By using a Creed – a set of shared beliefs – teams are united and guided in their behaviours. Incorporating elements of story – like purpose, heroes, guides, quests, and stakes – transforms a practice’s identity, making it more relatable and vibrant. This storytelling approach turns a faceless entity into a community of characters with a shared journey, significantly enhancing engagement and lighting up the brain in ways that mere facts cannot.

Build culture

Building a strong culture in a team hinges on three key factors: creating safety and belonging, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose. These elements align with our primal needs and how tribal dynamics work. A poor culture often stems from unclear expectations set by the leader regarding attitude and behaviour, or when set expectations are neither enforced nor celebrated, lacking consequence or reward. Continual reinforcement and revisiting of these expectations are essential. Above all, the leader must model these values; without this, no amount of definition or enforcement will suffice in creating a strong, positive culture.

Build the team

Building an effective team is a significant challenge for many leaders. It involves fostering a group that not only meets high standards and maintains a positive attitude but also takes initiative. The ideal is a ‘dream team’, where each member plays their part excellently, assumes responsibility, and cares deeply about the business. To create such a team, leaders must start by recruiting the right people. Then, they need to clearly set and communicate expectations. Crucially, leaders must also learn to delegate effectively, empowering team members to take ownership and add value, thus cultivating a team of leaders who contribute significantly to the organisation’s success.

Develop emotional intelligence and robustness

Emotional intelligence (EI) in leadership involves understanding oneself and others, and effectively managing emotional responses. Key aspects include empathy, authority, and understanding. It’s important to seek first to understand, balancing empathy with assertiveness. Creating a psychologically safe environment is crucial for sound decision-making. Adopting a coaching leadership style, which includes questioning, supporting, and guiding towards solutions, is effective. Handling poor performance should be done sensitively, yet decisively, with a clear three-step process. Leaders should not shy away from making tough decisions when necessary, adhering to the principle of hiring slowly but firing swiftly when required.

Embracing transformational leadership

The role of a boss is about inspiring and engaging team members in a shared vision, setting high standards and clear expectations. Embracing these six principles is essential for creating a workplace that is not only productive but also supportive and fulfilling.

About Mark

Mark Topley has wide experience designing, implementing and developing CSR programmes and partnering with companies, from single-handed dental practices to global corporates and everything in between. Over the past 23 years, he has worked with charities and businesses on four continents.

Mark was the CEO of Bridge2Aid and was part of the founding team that grew it to become the UK’s foremost dental charity. In 2017, Mark made the decision to take his experience and passion into a new role, inspiring businesses to maximise the benefits to be gained from CSR, and work productively and meaningfully with charities.






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