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Part 3 Key Skills Tip #27

Study Leadership

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Tip 27: Study Leadership

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
- Proverbs 29:18

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
- Warren Bennis

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born—that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
- Warren Bennis

Leadership is a vast topic. The skills needed to exercise great leadership can be overwhelming. The three quotes above describe the main role of leaders; to inspire, to create and translate a hopeful future and to influence. Leadership sage John Maxwell tells us that a person will only rise to the level of his or her leadership skills, and that everything rises and falls on leadership.

Most dentists do not study leadership. It is not taught in dental schools. It is assumed that people learn leadership by choosing good role models and copying their behavior. I agree…but there is more to it than that. I believe that health care professionals can learn leadership in a more formal way.

The business section of your local bookstore is filled with excellent books on leadership. Reading takes time and applying leadership lessons can be an exercise in trial and error. I have found that unless there is action behind any leadership philosophy, the pure knowledge is useless. There aren't enough courses either in dental school or in in the major continuing education programs that effectively teach leadership. The most popular recommendation that I heard through the years was to take Dale Carnegie courses. I did that and found them to be fairly effective.

In essence, learning leadership requires a full commitment to reading, studying, taking courses and applying what you learn. Personally, I would like to start a movement to teach leadership in dental schools. If this interests you, let me know by e-mail, nichedental@me.com, or Twitter, @barrypolansky or reach me on Facebook. Hopefully you are already a member of The Academy of Dental Leadership, which is dedicated to teaching dentists all things leadership.

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