Success in business comes from one thing: clarity.
In today’s world, there is this pressure to do it all, have it all, see it all, be it all. Sometimes the only thing that defines us from our competitors is to what and when we say the word No. But often it can be a challenge to know when to draw the line. When everything seems like a great opportunity for exposure, new patients, or new services, it can be hard to narrow it down to opportunities that most speak to your business’s core purpose.
That’s where clarity comes in. I go back to a quote from Alice in Wonderland when I’m thinking about this. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Likewise, if you don’t know your unique purpose and value you offer to your patients, any opportunity will seem like a good fit.
How do we achieve clarity?
Clarity can come in all forms, but first off it’s about knowing what we are trying to achieve.
If you look at other dental practices within your area or within Australia, you will find some that are sustainably achieving more than our industry peers. There are some dentists with robust practices even as the economy changes and other dental practices open and close.
There are some things that are consistent within these strong dental practices. One is that they each have clarity on the value they create. They know what their purpose is. They know what their goals are to serve that purpose. They know where to play and how to win. From their business model to how they do business, what they focus on, and their top challenges and priorities are informed by the clarity around their purpose.
And even though they are all dental practices, their purposes might be wildly different. For one practice, it might be offering quality dental services at affordable rates to a low-income area. For another, it might be offering luxe cosmetic services to a high-income clientele.
That’s because clarity enables decision making. And then by definition, clarity offers you the space to say ‘no’. For example, if you know that your top challenge is patient retention when a marketing seminar offers a free class for patient acquisition, you can safely say ‘no’. Even if the class is free, it still costs time and doesn’t speak to your business’s specific needs.
Clarity also needs alignment.
Clarity alone isn’t enough, however. Just because you know what your final goal is or your ultimate purpose, you need alignment on the strategies for how to get there.
Let’s use a rowing metaphor to explain this more clearly. If you are going to a row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean you either start from Africa to America or from the Canary Islands to Barbados.
Even if you know that your ultimate destination is Barbados, there are a few decisions to make on how to get there. You have a couple of choices. First, you could choose to row straight west. It’s a straight line and therefore the shortest distance. The second option is to row south from the Canary Islands following the currents. You row further, but you row faster.
If you and your team do not discuss how to get to Barbados, you might find that you are frantically rowing south while others are rowing west. This is the exact same kind of alignment issues that businesses can see.
While the goal might be the same, there are usually multiple ways to get there. It is important for every team member to be rowing the same way to the same destination.
Employee alignment with company goals is everything.
Unless you are a one-man show, you will have a team supporting you. Once more people come into the picture, the ideas of clarity and alignment becomes much more important. Other people aren’t mind readers so it’s important for everyone to ensure that they are on the same page.
A lot of organisations fail at this because the individual team members don’t understand their purpose within the larger picture. What is each individual team member working to achieve to impact the greater whole? Do your team members even know what your ultimate purpose is? Do they know how their contribution matters?
Be a leader, not a manager.
Leadership is about inspiration. True leaders can inspire people to work toward a shared goal. Management, on the other hand, is the ability to manipulate our resources (meaning people, time, and money) to achieve a desired result. In many ways, management is a practical skill. With what we have, how do we make a certain result happen?
Leadership is more amorphous. It might mean creating change, even if it’s uncomfortable. It might be saying no to things. It might be motivating people or learning how to push and pull to building the right office culture.
But for a leader to truly succeed, they need to be backed by a willing group of participants. Even the best leaders can’t inspire those who refuse to share the same vision of the practice.
When you can achieve clarity around your ultimate purpose and your business goals, making choices, even if they are scary, becomes a lot easier. When you know the final destination, you can begin to pick apart the best way to get there. Choosing the right path to your destination instead of any path to any destination is going to offer your unparalleled control over the success of your practice.
Do you feel that you have clarity within your practice?