Want to be a great leader? Learn to give and receive feedback

A few weeks ago we published 4 Key Behaviors of Amazing Dental Leaders. In that article we covered the first of the 4 keys to excellent leadership: knowing and promoting your “why.”

In this article we’ll dive into the second key trait—giving and receiving feedback.

Why is this so important?

Feedback guides people and helps them continue to improve their performance. It lets them know where they excel and where there’s opportunity to better themselves. Without proper feedback it can be easy to simply continue on “as is”—which does no favors for anyone on your office team.

But knowing how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters a desire for improvement isn’t as easy as it seems.

Giving Feedback

Anyone who wants to excel as a leader needs to know how to give balanced feedback—whether it’s positive or negative.

For example, if you notice that a team member has consistently struggled with explanation of a certain procedure don’t just outright say “You need to fix your explanation of procedure x, y, or z.” This will leave them feeling defensive—not motivated to do better. Instead, try something like “Hey, I noticed you might not feel 100% comfortable with this, but I think I could help. Maybe try saying it something like this” and then give further advice. This way you’re letting them know they need improvement, but in a way that feels helpful and not accusatory.

Conversely, when it comes to things people are excelling at you should always make sure to point them out. Someone may not realize how great of a job they’re doing or feel unappreciated because they know they’ve been working hard but haven’t felt any recognition. So any great leader will give praise to those who deserve it and make sure those receiving the positive feedback know they’re sincere. This is great for morale and keeping those working around you motivated to do their best work.

Receiving Feedback

You might wonder why this point is even in here. You may be asking yourself “Isn’t the leader the one who gives the feedback?” (Well, yes, see above.) But in order to be a good leader in your dental office you also need to be able to receive feedback and use it to become an even better leader and team member.

Think about it. Haven’t we seen examples of “leaders” who couldn’t handle the tiniest amount of constructive feedback? Because they’re leaders they become blind to the fact that they don’t always know best. They turn inward, believing their thoughts and actions are inherently “the best.”

And then they’re not truly leaders anymore. They’re bullies that no one wants in a dental office.

So, always keep in mind that to lead you must grow. And to grow you must graciously accept and learn from feedback.

For instance, maybe you’re the hygienist who’s been with your practice the longest. You know everything inside and out. This makes you an asset but can also make you a little leery of new technology when someone suggests you should try it. But resist the temptation to automatically think your way is best. Receiving feedback and being open to change mean you’ll do what’s right for your office.

Being a leader means embracing the opinions of everyone around you—even if you may have been there longer or are in a higher position of authority. Because at the end of the day a good leader does what’s best for who they’re leading.