Endo Mastery

Progress versus predictability

Moving your endodontic practice forward often means wrestling with conflicting priorities. Part of you wants to make changes that will spur growth, while part of you worries about rocking the boat. Learn how to balance priorities without compromising.



Every endodontist-owner wears three hats. The first is the clinical hat, which is what you are trained for and where you spend most of your time. The second is the management hat, which is untrained but taken on by necessity of owning a business and employing a team. The third is the leadership hat, which where your vision and dreams reside, but it often takes a back seat to the first two.


The management hat is vital because every business needs defined policies, procedures and team roles. It’s the manager’s job to keep track of everything that needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and by who. Managers have to deal with all the mistakes and issues that occur and ask, “Why did this happen?” and “How can it be prevented in the future?” The manager also studies the successes, asking again “Why did this happen” but then “How can it be replicated in the future?”


Ultimately, it’s the job of the manager to create predictability in the business’s operations. A focused manager implements effective and efficient systems so that the team has clear direction, and every day is a solid step toward the practice’s desired outcomes. The results of great management are a smoothly functioning team, days without unnecessary stress and a reliable cashflow that you can count on. In short, managers seek to control anything that creates a risk to practice operations.


By contrast, the leadership hat is focused on pursuing possibilities that aren’t being achieved yet by the practice. Leadership requires growth to make progress, which means making changes for which you don’t yet have a track record of success. To the manager hat, that sounds like a lot of risk.


The manager voice in your head will come up with all kinds of “buts” and “what ifs” that take the wind out of the vision sail. And, even if you do make some growth-focused changes, if the results aren’t immediate and perfect, the manager inside you takes that as proof that it isn’t worth rocking the boat or creating uncertainty.

Moving out of the danger zone

When the manager dominates the conversation, the practice moves to a state of inertia. Often called a comfort zone, it’s really a danger zone. The team becomes entrenched in current processes and resistant to change. Referral relationships settle around established relationships without improving or growing. Worst of all, the doctor stops believing in their vision. Their expectations become settled too, around what their practice has always done.


Over time, a practice in inertia creates its own issues because the world around them is moving forward while it is stuck in the past. The loss of a key referrer is often a telling sign. GPs can react when another endodontist starts marketing to them better, communicates more effectively, provides more responsive scheduling or gives patients a better experience.


When you find yourself in this state of needing to rebalance the management and leadership hats, the most important thing you can do is get outside of your own definition of predictable success. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” That’s a powerful thought, even if current research suggests the network is broader than five and the factor isn’t necessarily just how much time you spend.


In my view, the “time” in Rohn’s quote isn’t literal. It’s a metaphor for who you prioritize to help shape your viewpoint and vision. So, the best way to stay in balance with your leader and manager hats is to always have a mentor, always have inspiration in your practice life, and always seek out people whose own benchmark for predictable success is higher than your own.

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