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a blog by Chris Barrow

Leadership vs management

You will see from our Facebook page that the focus of my various comments and posts this week is going to be on the subject of management. I would like to start the debate off by considering one of my favourite questions.

“What is the difference between leadership and management?”

I think that the inability to answer this question leads to a lot of problems for both dental principals and practice/business managers – so I am going to give you a Chris Barrow definition which I don’t expect to get into the text books – nor do I expect you to necessarily to agree.

For me, management is about systems and leadership is about people.

I have often spoken and written about the key systems that need to be in place in order to make any business operate effectively.

1. Financial systems – management accounting, key performance indicators, average productivity and cash flow versus budget.

2. Marketing systems – branding, internet based marketing, relationship marketing, networking, strategic alliances and direct marketing.

3. Customer relationship management systems – telephony, the welcome team, the patient journey and the business conversation (treatment coordination).

4. Operational systems – the nuts and bolts of what makes the building work, both clinically and none clinically – telephones, desks, chairs, computers, clinical equipment.

5. People systems – how you recruit, train, compensate, motivate and retain and excellent team of people around you.

Franchises are well know to be the most successful business model in the world if one measures return on investment for every £1 of capital invested – and this is because a franchise is a box full of systems.

Whether you are opening a Toni and Guy Hairdressing Salon, a MacDonald’s or a Hilton Hotel they will send you to a training academy and the very last thing that they will say to you is “don’t change anything”.

Unfortunately, this history of dentistry has been that of a group of independent self employed tinkers who have never exchanged systems, even when they have been created.

Of course, I have written elsewhere about the extent to which this is about to change (watch out for this week’s ezine article on Succession Planning).

So the objective of a manager in a dental practice is:

1. To determine which systems are appropriate

2. To create those systems

3. To train the team on the implementation of those systems

4. To maintain and monitor those systems

5. To adapt and improve those systems, until such time as the business is running effectively

Leadership, on the other hand, is about making sure that your people are:

1. Appreciated

2. Trained

3. Motivated

4. In tune with your brand and your vision

5. Excited to turn up for work almost every day

6. Can see “what’s in it for them”

7. Are appraised on a regular basis

8. Feel that they are truly heard

9. Enjoy working for you as an inspirational leader

10. Feel that this part of their career is a period that they will look back on as being “the best of days”.

If you can get the leadership and management right in an organisation then you will fly.

It is a moot point that the characteristics required to be a good manager are often different from those required to be a good leader – trying to be both can often be a dangerous game to play.

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