Lead By Example

Photo Credit: iStock, Getty Images

What does it mean to be a good leader? This is something I thought about a lot as I developed a plan for my cold start practice. While Look New Canaan is an accumulation of my ideas, vision, and dreams, how could I get buy-in from my team and have them believe in what we are creating, especially in the beginning?  

One of my favorite quotes about leadership is, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” Cultivating a team who feels empowered, responsible, and fulfilled was most important to me when cold starting. 

How do I do this? It is always a work in progress!

First and foremost, I lead by example. I embody the values I expect my team to have: professionalism, integrity, and empathy. I think with the patient in mind first, and I am 100% committed to excellence in patient care when interacting with patients, educating my team, or making business decisions. So often we expect our team to act a certain way, but we don’t lead by example, or we expect the same behavior from all team members. This can make it confusing and difficult for a team to work together.

Communication is the cornerstone of good leadership. I foster an open, transparent environment and make sure that everyone feels valued and heard. Most important to me? I praise openly and correct privately, and I do this quickly. I want everyone on the team to feel that this eliminates misunderstandings and the festering of issues, which often creates resentment. As someone who strongly dislikes confrontation, this can be hard for me. But part of leadership is stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing the hard things.  

The best part of leadership? Developing an amazing team and getting out of their way! People often ask how I am able to “do it all”— cold start a practice, run my consulting and advisory company, and be a mom. The big secret?  I am the queen of delegation! This doesn’t come overnight — training, education, and a deep understanding of the way our practice runs can take some time, but the benefits are incredible. When you trust your team to be independent, you gain back the precious gift of time, which can be used to work on the business, see more patients, work on other projects, or take time away from the office. Team members also feel a sense of ownership, and the practice can run effectively and efficiently — even when you aren’t there!

As we enter our fourth month of patient care at Look New Canaan, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the experience we have created for patients, and how proud I am to work every day with my team. It has been fun to grow as a leader (and continue to improve!) and watch my team take flight.  

If you feel your practice culture needs a shift, or find you feel stagnant, I encourage you to dust off your leadership skills. Roll up your shirt sleeves and dive back into your practice — teach your team new skills, delegate some of your more mundane tasks to able staff, and maybe even learn some new leadership strategies yourself. The results are incredible!

Yours in success,
Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Copyright © 2020 Jobson Medical Information LLC unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.