What kind of leader are you? Self-motivated? Growth-orientated? Highly successful? Overwhelmed? As Roger P. Levin, DDS, of the orthodontic practice consulting firm Levin Group, puts it, most orthodontists and office managers identify as the latter: overwhelmed.
In this episode, Levin joins host Alison Werner to talk about leadership in the orthodontic practice and how overwhelmed orthodontists and office managers can move from that frustrating stage to that of the highly-successful leader—where the practice is fun, the days are easier, and the practice is at its most lucrative and employees are most satisfied.
As Levin puts it, an orthodontist’s #1 job after clinical orthodontics is being a great leader.” If you do that, he adds, “everything else will fall into place.” So how do you become a great leader and create an environment where everyone wants to work? Levin breaks it down in this episode:
- Levin explains his Four Levels of Leadership—the self-motivated leader, the growth-orientated leader, the overwhelmed leader, and highly-successful leader—and helps orthodontists and their staff identify which type of leader they are. He also explains how you can transition through each of those levels to get to the highly successful leader stage.
- A key aspect of growing as a leader is delegation, and by extension trust. Levin explains why you need to trust your staff and stop micromanaging. But that doesn’t mean you are turning a blind eye. Instead, de explains why you need to shift from managing your staff to measuring results. And if staff miss a measurement, it doesn’t mean they violated your trust. “It means they need mentoring and training—which is what great leaders are happy to do,” says Levin.
- To move through the Four Levels of Leadership, Levin shares his 10 Principles of Leadership and explains how to implement each one. OP
Alison Werner 0:10
Hello, I’m Alison Werner, host of the orthodontic products Podcast. Today we have back with us Dr. Roger Levin, CEO and founder of the Levin group. This time he is here to talk leadership within the orthodontic practice. Here’s our conversation. Dr. Levin, great to have you back.
Dr Roger Levin 0:24
Allison, it is always an honor to be with you. And I enjoy these podcasts so much. I’m looking forward to today.
Alison Werner 0:32
So we’re gonna talk about leadership. Now you have something you call the four levels of leadership. What exactly is that?
Dr Roger Levin 0:40
Well, I’m really excited to share this with our listeners, because leadership is I believe leadership is one of the most important skills for an orthodontist, and an office manager to acquire. And as a dentist, I can tell as a third generation dentist, I can tell you that my grandfather, my father, and I learn nothing about business in dental school. And we don’t really get exposed to it in our continuing education. And yet today, we’re we’re facing a staffing crisis, where we’re in a world where leaders have got to create an environment where people want to work there, they want to be there. And we all know that a high longevity staff is so much more fun to work with, and so much more efficient. We’ve created a model at Levin group we call the four levels of leadership. And the four levels, I know we’ll get into detail. But basically, level one is what we call the self motivated leader. And then level two is what we call the growth oriented leader. And level three is the overwhelmed leader. And I’ll just make this note, that’s the majority of orthodontists and office managers in the country. And level four, which is the one you want to aspire to be in is called the highly successful leader, where practice is fun, it’s easy. It’s the most lucrative stage to be in. And you’re really getting tremendous satisfaction out of your career. And I love teaching this because I would love every orthodontists to know about this, and to have an opportunity to move toward being a level four leader.
Alison Werner 2:21
Well, okay, so let’s dig into this self motivated leader. What how do you define that? Okay,
Dr Roger Levin 2:27
so it will not surprise anyone that we start with the early practice or someone open their own practice. And there aren’t as many orthodontist opening practices from scratch today, but we’re seeing more and more even some who have been working in DSO for DSOs for a few years, come out and want to open their own office and have their own practice. So level one is that entrepreneurial stage, you know, one way to think of it as the chicken with the head cut off, you’re, you’re doing everything, but you’re so excited, so energized, and usually young, to have that energy, that you open the practice or you buy a small practice, and you want to grow it. And it’s characterized by having tremendous energy, by excitement, motivation, and optimism, these dentists, every orthodontist should think back to when they first went into practice that that’s the excitement that we all remember that as a general dentist, I remember when I started and I had that same energy and excitement. And you’ve got a small staff, sometimes you have two staff, sometimes one, and you are out there doing everything you can, you’re taking care of patients, you’re meeting referring doctors, you’re working extra hours after work to take care of all the administrative work, but it’s fun. And the initial result is that your excitement rubs off on the team members that you hire they, they get energy from your energy, they they really feel this mission that isn’t even defined yet of We’re building something special together. But the gradual result is that you become so busy that eventually others don’t know what they’re supposed to be following. So you out, as you grow, you outgrow the ability to communicate properly with the team. And when you reach that stage, you have to go to level two.
Alison Werner 4:28
Okay, and so that then is the growth oriented leader. So how, what are you doing differently there? Or what makes? How do you know you’ve transitioned?
Dr Roger Levin 4:38
And the good news is I’m gonna tell everybody now that in each stage, you’re more financially successful. So if all you care about is money, and there are people that do and I don’t ever judge anyone that you want to move through the stages, but the beauty is if we can get to stage four, we get a lot more than just money, we get a great career. So as you You get super busy at level one, you have to move to level two, the growth oriented leader. And this leader is spending time just trying to keep up growth is happening. You know, orthodontic practices typically grow, you’re meeting people in the community, you know, other families, you start getting involved with schools, if you have kids, which is very common, you are growing your referring doctors, you have people who refer to you, and patients are referring patients. So when all of that happens with referrals, the practice keeps growing. And in order to compensate and keep up, you start hiring. And people get more specialized, the one front desk person becomes three front desk people, two people might answer the phone, one might handle insurance and collections, you hire more assistants, you hire a treatment coordinator. And if you’re smart, I recommend you hire a professional relations coordinator part time to handle your marketing. So the characteristics of the of the growth oriented leader in level two, that practice has constant changes taking place all the time. You have a massive learning curve, because the growth is happening. And your no one ever taught you how to manage all that growth. You might be taking courses and reading articles, hopefully, in orthodontic products, where you have a lot of good writers and I’m pleased to be one of them, hopefully. But your energy starts to drain as you get farther in each stage, as you get farther in your energy drains more and more. So the initial result, which I’ll give you for each level, is that there’s there’s just a high adrenaline rush taking place early in level two, but by later the gradual result is the team started to get fatigued and we’re even starting to see some burnout of the team. And today the danger is people leave, you know, people used to hang out longer and put up with more. But right now, there’s such a staff shortage that if we if we get people near burnout, they’re gonna go seek other positions. So that’s that’s the good and bad of level two.
Alison Werner 7:14
Okay, so then, you know, that success, as you said, is going to lead into that overwhelm burned out, which is the level three the overwhelmed leader. What? Well, since it sounds like overwhelming, and you know, you just said it was like kind of the least love stage. What should people know?
Dr Roger Levin 7:36
Well, level three, the overwhelm leader is most orthodontists in this country, they have nice practices, somewhere between, you know, average and better. They’ve been in practice for a while their incomes higher than level one, level two, because the practice has been growing. But they’re tired. I mean, early on, it’s great, you start to get your systems in place, your team learns the systems, things seem better than level two, because the later part of each stage is not so great, even though you’re financially better off. And they start to get tired, and they outgrow their systems and what we see all the time. And we talked to orthodontists every day here, what we see is that they had systems, they’ve outgrown them, but they haven’t gone back and improve them. And if you don’t keep your systems up to date, then your success is going to be limited. So level three, you can stay at an average revenue, or you can be three times average revenue or four times, just depending on where your systems are. But what happens is as as a leader, you’ve plateaued, you’re not leading anymore. You’re so busy with patients and parents, that a lot of your job when you’re not practicing is putting out fires, dealing with issues dealing with taxes, regulation, PPP, inflation, overhead and everything else. But you’re not focused on leading the team and I would advise any orthodontist, that your number one job after clinical orthodontics is being a great leader, then everything else will fall into place. So at the once you get well into stage three, it’s not fun anymore. If you ask an orthodontist you’re having fun they always say yes, but it’s not nearly as much fun it’s more of a struggle. It’s an I have to go to work tomorrow. I’ve got to make a living. I got a mortgage, I got kids tuitions, I got cars. And the initial result in stage three is better income, but the the gradual result is frustration, stress, physical issues, you know, a lack of further production growth, and to get that next 3% production, you work harder instead of being more efficient. Now, this is where most orthodontists live, I am not being negative. They’re making a living, but you know, but a lot of them are not having fun and if you’re not having fun, it often means means you’re not as efficient as you could be. And if you’re not as efficient as you could be, it means your production is well below your real potential.
Alison Werner 10:08
Okay, so then how do you transition out of that?
Dr Roger Levin 10:13
This is the hard one, you know, level one is automatic, if you’re not excited, in level one, when you’re getting started, you probably should pick another profession. And then as you grow, inevitably, you will get to level two, I’ve never met an orthodontist that didn’t get to level two. And level two, you’re getting busier, you’re growing. And you almost automatically get to level three, it’s rare that the level two doesn’t get to level three. But it’s also rare that a level three gets to level four. So if I’m gonna give an inspirational challenge to our listeners, and something to aspire to, the greatest way to practice as as a level four leader, what we call the highly successful leader, but this takes work, it does not happen automatically. It will not happen unless you deliberately work to make it happen. So what happens here, this is when the orthodontist wakes up. And I’ve had this conversation with many orthodontists wakes up and says, Okay, I’m well into level three, I’m making a reasonable income, but I am tired, I am burning out, I am exhausted, I’m frustrated with my team. I’ve had it with this one assistant, I, my office manager is not doing the job I hired her to do whatever it may be, those stresses are there. And you have to make a decision that I am going to do what I excel at, I excel at being an orthodontist, I’m going to treat patients, I’m going to do consults with new patients, I’m going to give great customer service and build relationships with our patients and parents and referring doctors. And that’s all I’m going to do. I’m going to stop doing everything else. I’ve had it I’m finished, I’m going to start to delegate. And bit by bit, don’t do it all overnight. Let me warn our listeners don’t walk in Monday, and delegate 100 things that won’t go well. But over the next 12 months, make a list of every thing your staff is legally allowed to do, and make a commitment that they’re now going to learn to do it. Whether it takes training, or you just have to give up the reins is one orthodontist said well, I would delegate this but I do it better. That’s not an acceptable attitude. If the staff is legally allowed to do it. And by the way, front desk, people are legally allowed to do just about anything administrative. The orthodontist should not be doing it. Here’s the life of the level four leader see if you want this. You wake up in the morning, you’ve got a great attitude. You walk into your office, you go to your private office, you do you say hello to everybody. You do your morning routine, you make your checklist of anything you need to get done that day outside of patients, you attend the morning meeting we attend not run, which should be 10 minutes long. That meeting is run by the office manager or scheduling coordinators because it’s about today only. And the rest of the day, you do what your assistants tell you to do. Every time you get up, somebody should tell you go to chair three, go to chair four, go to the consult room, you’re in the console room for 10 minutes. If you follow our model, and you leave and you close at 88% of all new patients. End of the day, you finish on time and you go home. And if that sounds ideal, I can tell you. I know many many orthodontists living that life. Yes, there are bad days. Occasionally, there’s a bad week. But as I like to joke, if you’re having a bad decade, that’s really unacceptable. So that’s bad. And you can have 90 some percent of your days, exactly as I described. So let me give you the characteristics real quickly. level for the highly successful leader. It’s the most fun stage. It is by far the highest revenue most lucrative stage you can be in. Some of these orthodontists have doubled triple or quadruple the incomes of others just but by moving to level four, they gradually grow income. Their systems are in place and constantly updated by the team. They have a high delegation structure, they delegate almost everything. And they’ve got a very happy and productive team. So the initial result is you have what’s called a growth oriented practice. The gradual result is continued growth, continued increase in production and profit and continued improvement with tremendous satisfaction in your work. And it’s fantastic. It’s just a fantastic level to get to.
Alison Werner 14:50
Yeah, well it’s I’m realizing how key that aspect of delegating is and how much that you know factors on the trust you Having your staff so what would you say to an orthodontist who has trouble, you know, giving up some of that control? You know, because it is their business. So, you know, there is that aspect that can make that choice difficult or that just that ability.
Dr Roger Levin 15:16
Okay, so I’m gonna give you an answer, I’m gonna suspect you’ve never heard before. I’ve given the subject of trust is a very deep study of mine. I think trust is one of the most important things to every human being on the planet. If you think about it. We all get up in the morning. And I think our first question is, Who can I trust? That’s why we watch the news channels we watch. That’s why we listen to the weather people we watch. Who can I trust? So this will really help orthodontists in, in terms of trusting your team, you have two choices. Choice. One is don’t trust them. And a lot of Orthodontists don’t they might say they do. But they don’t. They micromanage they constantly check in, they don’t delegate, and I’m not being critical. Someone wants to practice that way. That’s a choice. But I want it to be a conscious choice. Because that’s what I call the transactional leader, I pay you, you do work for me, you make me money, I check up on you all the time to see if you did a good job. And unfortunately, a lot of Orthodontists trained themselves to be micromanagers, by having staff members at different points in their career that weren’t accountable. But unfortunately, if you don’t trust people, then you constantly have to monitor them. You constantly have to micromanage them, and you’re teaching them not to do any more than the basic job, because they know you’re just going to follow up on them. And in many cases, you’ll do the job for them, if they don’t do it properly. A lot of many office managers fall into this transactional mode because they don’t trust people. The other option is to trust people right from the outset, to look at your team and say, Okay, I’m going to trust you, you’re going to make mistakes, we’ll learn from mistakes, but I’m going to trust that you’re going to do the very best job you can. And I have found that when you trust people, they aspire to earning that trust, they want to do a good job, because they know that you trust them. They want to learn they want training, they want to grow. And I’ve also found that giving the team new delegation, new responsibilities, inspires them to do more and do better. So I clearly fall into the trust people camp, will you ever be burned? Absolutely, you’re going to you’re going to be burned from time to time by a team member who doesn’t come through who has personal issues, I could list 50 Different reasons you’ll be burned. But that should not be a reason to stop trusting your team. What you want to do is put in checks and balances, I have an expression that I love. Just because I think it’s helpful, stop managing and start measuring, don’t manage your team measure results. If every team member doesn’t have 123 measurements that they’re responsible for, that’s going to keep you from ever being a level four leader, every team member has to know your job is to file the insurance every day collect 99% of what’s owed to the practice, and file and you know, and in 30 days, if we haven’t heard from the insurance company follow up on them. Your job is to make sure that you can do 90% debt orthodontic assistant, you can do 90% of the treatment that you’re legally allowed to do. And to make sure that I come over and do my part as the orthodontist, your job treat and coordinators to close 89% of all new patients. My job is to follow my 10 minutes of scripting, build a relationship and then leave the room so I don’t create more questions than when I started. Whatever it may be, we need measurements. We need to trust people and then measure results. And if they miss a measurement, it doesn’t mean they violated your trust. It means they need mentoring and training, which is what great leaders are happy to do.
Alison Werner 19:22
Okay, well, um, so, with this for these four levels of leadership for someone who is hearing about these four levels of leadership for the first time, what would you say to them as they kind of do some self reflection to feel figure out where they are?
Dr Roger Levin 19:40
Well, what I’d love to do and I don’t want to overwhelm people, is share 10 principles of leadership. But okay, here’s how I’m not going to overwhelm people. If the audience listening, likes what I’m saying, and I have been studying leadership for 38 years again, It constantly changes a good leader in a good economy might not be a good leader in a bad economy. A good leader in an oversupply of staffing might not be a good leader in an under supply. As you know, Allison right now, we have more people joining orthodontic practices with less skills than ever before, we’ve got to bring them up to speed. My teaching suggestion is I’m going to go through with you 10 principles of leadership that will help you move faster through level 123. And four, by the way, you can’t go from level one to level four. You can’t go from level two to level four, you’ve got to go through each stage. It’s a question of how quickly can you move through it. And that’s going to be determined by your leadership skills. And my suggestion to everyone is just pick one at a time. Don’t try to do all 10 You will fail. Okay? It’s like It’s like hiring a fitness trainer and telling them I’m 30 pounds overweight. I haven’t worked out in 10 years. But I want to be ready for Mr. Olympia, or Mrs. Olympia contest in 30 days, not going to happen. So it’s a gradual process. Leaders know that leadership is gradual. And the most important thing, Allison’s leadership is situational. If you come to me and say define a great leader, I have no idea. And I’ve been studying this forever. I’ve read hundreds of books. 1000s of articles been to business school programs. Leadership is situational. It depends on what you’re facing, who you’re dealing with. I’ve seen orthodontists take poor performing team members and make them world class performers. I’ve seen other orthodontists take world class performers and reduce them to poor performers. I’ve seen orthodontic practices that have flourished in good economic times. And now we’re making this podcast at a time where the economy’s a major question mark, we’re worried about the future, we’re worried about what Congress will and won’t pass, we’re worried about the economy, and recessions. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But a good leader has to be prepared to switch leadership styles depending on the current situation. So if you’d like we can you know if you have any questions about that, or we can wait
Alison Werner 22:24
to the 10. Let’s launch into the 10 principles, what should they be?
Dr Roger Levin 22:28
Okay, so I’m gonna give them in order. Principle number one is exquisite team member training. Now, Allison is you and I’ve talked about loving group, it may be the only one we have a 30 year ongoing study of top 10% orthodontic practices. And we found 17 principles that these practices have in common. And three of them, four of them are about the staff. And I would say that the first item and you and I just came from the EO meeting, we met incredibly enthusiastic people. They’re great speakers, the exhibit hall was buzzing with energy. It’s the first ones great to see everybody back out and about again. But those staff members there were training, they were going to classes. And whether you do it in house, whether the orthodontist does it himself or herself, whether you bring in one of the greatest training, and it’s free, our sales representatives, they’re fantastic. They’re extremely knowledgeable, bringing them in to run lunch and learns and sessions with the team. So the first thing the team needs to engage in is systems training. They need to know the systems, your success in orthodontic practice, your success as a leader will be directly proportional to the systems that you have. So we want to get our team up to speed. And we could go we could spend an hour on each of these. But I would say the first starting point, are detailed job descriptions for every team member with two things you don’t normally see a list of accountabilities of the job with measurements, what are you accountable for, and a list of responsibilities? What are you responsible to get done? If you only do two things, those are the most important two categories to help a team member actually understand her job. So that’s number one exquisite team member training, and that’s forever. If you’re not retrained in your job today, every three years you are obsolete in your job. So that’s a reality. I believe in principle number two, intense focus on execution. I mean, I met an orthodontist, 25 years ago, and he said to me, my practice could be a lot better. He said, But I’m an idea guy, and I need people who can execute. And he was right. He was absolutely right. He had great Good ideas but didn’t get anything done. So. So what we did was we hired an office manager, sort of a chief operating officer to take his ideas and implement them. And he, you know, it’s rare, but he doubled the practice in 12 months. That’s rare. But you know, I hate people who make ridiculous claims like, oh Levin Group’s a consulting firm, we double every practice and 12 months, not we don’t know, if we grow a practice 18% In the first year, we’re thrilled. But this practice actually doubled. Because he had the ideas, he just was incapable of execution. He just, he was one of those people never got anything done. So surround yourself with people who get things done. And I there’s a great quote, the main thing is the main thing, what is the main thing each team member needs to know and do? Because we waste a lot of time during our days, there is so much wasted time, I’m not saying you don’t work hard. But are you working hard at the right things. So the best leaders focus intensely on execution, here’s what’s supposed to get done. And we get it done. And they don’t micromanage they measure, as I said before, so you know, as an example, a lot of the practices we work with, we encourage having a standing meeting, the last day of every week, for 15 minutes, in the staff room where every team member, there’s a big board, or poster or whatever, every team member has their two or three key responsibilities. You go through each team member reports, like in a minute in one minute on their progress on each responsibility. That’s how you foster execution, you don’t just wait till the end of the year and see what happened. And by the way, after the first or second week, nobody wants to be the team member that didn’t do anything. So every you don’t have to tell people to get going, they automatically get going. It’s almost a peer pressure without ever saying it. And it’s fun. People have a lot of fun doing it. And everybody doesn’t do everything every week, but it keeps things front and center in mind. So the third principle is designing literally Designing Effective systems. And I’m going to make this simple systems, our scheduling treatment coordinator, the new patient experience the new patient phone call debonding on time, no shows, late patients, where do we schedule emergencies? Which appointments? Are we not leaving enough time? Right before our podcast? I was talking to an orthodontist, client of ours. And she talked about block scheduling. And I said, Well, how are you going to do that? And I’m not her consultant. But I know her and we were chatting. She said, Oh, I’m going to look at this, this and this. I said, Well, you have to do more than just look at it, you’ve got to determine how often is it happening? If you have one, no show week, that’s not so bad. If you have three a day, that’s really bad, because no shows and orthodontics lead to overdue debonds, which is 100% Pure overhead waste. So systems are simple. They need to be designed step by step, go on Google and ask it how to fix something on your iPhone, it will give you an answer step by step by step. And I know this, because I have to do it all the time. And
Alison Werner 28:20
as we all do,
Dr Roger Levin 28:22
you know, I’m a tech genius once I go to Google, because I just follow the steps and fixes my phone, or whatever I’m working on. Same thing with your practice system step by step by step because you want three things to happen. Number one, you want your current team to learn these systems, they can be better, they can be more efficient, they can be more productive. Number two, we’re hiring new team members who need training, the systems are the training, that’s the best way to train the team. And number three, when you do it in steps, you can find out where to miss where you don’t need to do things, you can eliminate steps, you can be faster, you can be more efficient. We do a lot of things in orthodontic practices that don’t need to be done today. But it’s the way it was always done. So we just keep doing it.
Alison Werner 29:11
Right. Well, and it seems like you know, it’s I find it interesting that you have systems. So at the top of this list, because it really does sound like it’s going to be the the underpinning of everything that goes from there.
Dr Roger Levin 29:25
Yeah. If you think about what we talked about level one, leaders have no systems, they’re just they have capacity for more patients. They’re just working everywhere. Level two leaders have, they don’t really have systems as much as they hire more people to do specialized jobs, and they get some systems but they’re not good. Level three. This is where a lot of orthodontics. orthodontists get consultants, they get good systems. They they they work really well. But they outgrow them and then when they outgrow them, they don’t realize I would say today you need new systems every three to five Here’s I mean, look at what’s happening in ortho, you know, you know, aligner patients are often 16 weeks apart. You know, when I grew up, when I started in dental, every patient was seen every four weeks, Tella, dentistry, 3d printing, I mean, our world is changing very, very quickly. You need new systems, to take advantage of all of that and to keep your team as sharp as possible. And that’s what a good leader does, you know, really trains the team regularly. So principle four is called measure the mighty few, find those five or six key performance indicators, what cap, just ask yourself, what matters, what counts, number of new patients, percentage a new patients that start, practice revenue, practice production, collections, overhead, and overdue debonds. Those are probably the I call those the mighty few. They’re the most important key performance indicators. The next group would be no shows, late patients, you know, things along those lines, any patients who decided not to complete treatment, we’re going to see more of that with aligners. The number one group that doesn’t complete their aligners are dental staff, either the orthodontic staff or general dental staff, it’s free, so they get started and then partway along, they don’t finish. That’s an interesting observation. It’s not real data, it’s an observation. But you’re gonna have some patients that don’t complete treatment, etc. So, but those measure the mighty few, don’t overwhelm yourself with too much data. Don’t overwhelm your staff. If I know six key statistics about orthodontic practice, I know a lot about that practice, because I know how those statistics work together. And principle number five is interesting. I call it willing to undergo the pain and suffering of staff changes. Now I want everyone to know I love the staff, my full one of my life philosophies is to respect every human being on the planet, you have to be a really bad person, for me to not respect you, and they are out there. But I try to respect everyone that I meet. And that’s a personal philosophy. And I have tremendous respect for the orthodontic staff. These are the people that make it happen. They make our life wonderful. They help the orthodontist to have a great life. But there are times where there are people who should not be there. And my view of that is it’s not that they’re bad people, we get mad at people if they’re not performing, they might just be in the wrong job. And if you gave them a full opportunity if you mentored them and met with them, and by the way, and if you told them the truth, I’m very big on the word honesty. And by honesty, I don’t mean truth or lying. I mean, telling people what you really think so many orthodontists don’t tell underperforming staff members, this is not going well let’s you know, let’s talk about how we can improve your performance. That should be a comfortable conversation. Not one where oh, gosh, she’s gonna get upset. Well, she, if you don’t talk to her, she’s gonna keep upsetting you. And she’s also holding back the practice. So, top performing orthodontist as leaders are willing to undergo the pain and suffering of changing a team member when necessary. It’s not easy. I was in practice for 10 years while I was building the Levin group, our consulting firm, I understand that I’ve lived the life not as an orthodontist, but as a dentist. But you’ve got to be willing to make the change if necessary. And if not, it’s going to hold the entire team back. One of the I have many sayings that I believe in, it only takes one bad mood on the team to bring everyone else down. And it only takes one underperformer to hold everyone else back. So they’re willing to do what needs to be done. And That’s principle number five. Principle number six is what I call not delegation, extreme delegation, which I talked about earlier. And that’s level four, where you simply say, I will not do this anymore. And I haven’t this I’m serious about this next recommendation, take a post it note and write this question on it and put it on right in front of you on the desk in your private office. Whose job am I doing now? Whose job am I doing now? And if you keep looking at that, you’re going to realize you’re doing a lot of jobs you do not need to do and if it’s legally allowable for the team to do it. It’d be like physicians and hospitals doing the nurses jobs or the RNs doing the LPNs jobs. Physicians respect nurses, you know, when You’re there at night, you’re there on weekends in the hospital, your primary care person is the nurse. And that’s how we should view our orthodontic staff, front desk, treatment coordinator and clinical, they are there as professionals to do a job. If I were an orthodontist, and I mean this, I would view them as my equals, and would not be on the doctor and you’re the staff, it would be more equal. I’m a doctor, and you’re a insurance coordinator. And you’re an orthodontic assistant, and you’re a treatment coordinator, and you’re a professional relations coordinator, the marketing person, and I would help them aspire to be equal to me, I would treat them as equal to me, and I would delegate everything I possibly could. That’s how you get to level four fast. But you’ve got to give them the training that I another expression, delegate, don’t abdicate, delegate, don’t abdicate, you can’t disappear. And, you know, one of the techniques I teach now is, you should be meeting one on one with different staff members every eight weeks or so just a 10 minute get together. And when you invite them the first time, tell them all good. Use those words, or they’re gonna think they’re in trouble. Org, want to sit down with you for 10 minutes, all good. Because in any business, when you call people in out of nowhere, it’s like, Oh, my God, what did I do wrong? And just, and this is not a performance review. This is not an improvement conversation. Just how are you doing? What are you seeing? And you know, what great leaders ask I’ve learned over the years, how can we improve? And then a scary question I love I do it all the time at loving group, I do it all the time, when I’m speaking is it’s a fantastic question. How do you think I can improve? Allison, tell me later? How can I be better on your podcast? You know, I’ve developed this feedback loop in life where I like getting feedback. And if I’m not doing well, or I could do better, wow, tell me because I’m a self improvement junkie. I’d love to be better. But I can’t get better if nobody tells me. And if I don’t ask, nobody’s going to tell me. Right, exactly. Yeah. So I tell orthodontists all the time, if you want to improve, ask your team, how you can improve, because eventually they’ll trust you enough to tell you back to that trust principle that we talked about, right? So that’s principle six is you really the only way to grow past a plateau is going to be to start to delegate to your team. And that that’s that might be the number one principle of the 10. I’m not sure. But it’s certainly tied for number one, definitely a key one. So principle seven is what I call strategic thinking.
We have a service here. And the only reason I’m bringing it up is so I can highlight this. In strategic planning, good companies do strategic planning. And strategic planning is more than just sitting around thinking of things. It’s a process where you end up with a five year plan. And I’ve been involved, I take six of those a year myself, we do it in with partners, we do it in teams, too. I love it. It’s so fun, because it’s all creative. And I love creative thinking. But everyone should design a five year plan. Where do you what do you want your practice to look like five years from now? And what has to happen on what dates and you’ve got to put the dates over the next five years to make it happen? When do I hire an office manager? When do I hire a new assistant? When do I add two treatment rooms? When do I move my practice? When do I buy another practice? When do I bring in an associate? Am I going to offer equity, what has to happen in the next five years? And when does that happen in year 1, 2, 3, and four and five and I mean, the exact date, November on November 25. We will have our systems in place or whatever the date may be, you know, what experts do I need in my life. And That’s principle number seven, strategic thinking and the easiest way to understand strategic planning. It answers one question. Where do you want to be in five years and past five years? Forget it. The world’s changing way too fast to predict anything that can happen more than five years. Even 3d printing is almost unpredictable and it’s already here. But it’s going to have huge impact on dentistry and the orthodontic specialty, a principle number eight. The most successful people that I have met in orthodontics in dentistry and in business because I’m in three national CEO organizations been in them for over 20 years. When I meet the most successful people. The single thing they all have in common is they surround themselves with experts. They they understand they can’t be Experts in everything. I was at a very high level financial conference recently with the head of private banking for JP Morgan, whoever oversees a trillion dollars of investment. And she made a phenomenal statement. Somebody asked her well, what gets wealthy people in trouble? And she said, when they think they’re as good at investing as they are at running their own businesses, she said, most people this was this is just an interesting analogy. She said, most people make most of their money in their businesses where they really know what they’re doing. And not through their investing. If they do it by themselves, they often get into trouble. And I would say that’s correct. I would say, you need a great attorney, you need a great accountant, you might want an executive coach, I, you know, I love executive coaching. I’ve had them for myself since 1992. I personally work and I and I limited to six doctors that I work with in executive coaching who who are successful, but they want to continue to improve in their lives. There are others there are other coaches out there. There are consultants out there they’re Get, get great financial advisors and do. And here’s the one thing about experts do what they tell you. Yes, you need to think. But if you have the right experts, they do two things. They help you to grow, and they keep you from making mistakes. And one big mistake for an orthodontist can set you back 10 years financially, or emotional pain or physical pain. Do what your expert advisors tell you. And that’s that’s a universal Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, they are surrounded. They didn’t do it all themselves. They are surrounded by experts in their lives that have helped them to achieve the success of Sheryl Sandberg is very well known for by women for women’s empowerment and her lean in organization. Cheryl was brought in as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook early on because the board felt Mark Zuckerberg was too young and didn’t know enough about business without her. Facebook wouldn’t be Facebook today. So we can credit Mark Zuckerberg, but it was experts like Sheryl and his life. That made a huge difference. And made Facebook what it is today, which is I’m trying to remember, but it’s billions of people. I think it’s 2 billion people a day. Are there on Facebook. Okay, so that’s principle a, we’re, we’re almost Okay. Well, nine is great leaders are quick decision makers, you would think they sit around pondering and researching. But those are the people that miss opportunities. Great leaders make decisions quickly. Now, they often go to their experts to help them with their decisions. But when they see an opportunity, they move very quickly, whether it’s putting in systems hiring the right person, buying another practice enhances their referral based marketing program. They move quickly, when they see an opportunity. And they and this and they don’t always get it right. But they get so much more right than they get wrong that their batting average allows them to be very, very successful. You don’t have to get everything right, you just have to get most of it right. And not beat yourself up when you get something wrong. Just do a post mortem, learn from it, and move on. So here’s a quick thing. I call it the 98% decision factor. 98% of the decisions we make in our lives don’t matter. Allison, if you buy a car and you don’t like it, your life will go on just fine. If you go to a movie, and it’s a bad movie, your life will go on just fine. And if you lose $1,000 in cryptocurrency or Las Vegas, your life will go on just fine. Those are what I call 98% decisions, and it’s 98% of all of our decisions. They just don’t matter. But 2% of our decisions, if you get them wrong, you will be hurt financially, emotionally physically. So whenever you’re faced with a 2% decision, so I buy another practice for a million dollars. So I spent $500,000 remodeling my office. So I spend 50,000 on a referral marketing program. Whenever you have a 2% decision, Ask an Expert ask someone who has experience they’ve probably seen it all they will give you great answers and they will keep you from making a mistake. So 98% of decisions make them instantly doesn’t matter. It will not a year from now it will make no difference if you get it wrong. 2% Ask an Expert because it will matter if you get that one wrong. And finally number 10 great leaders are not necessarily optimistic. They’re called Rational optimists. You know, there are a lot of Optimists that get in trouble because they’re so optimistic they make really bad decisions, because they think everything will work and everything does not work in life as we know. So the optimist I think they bought a lot of cryptocurrency. I’m a Rational Optimist. I wanted to buy cryptocurrency really badly. I read four books on the subject I had people I knew that were really into it that I talked to, I wanted it wanted it wanted it, I knew Allison, I was missing out when the greatest opportunity financially in my life, but I never bought any and then it all crashed, and it may still come back, it may be great, but the rational optimistic side of me will not be buying cryptocurrency. So at least this round, I survived a significant crash. We’ll see what happens. But the point is, rational optimists have a great optimistic view of the future. They believe they can accomplish great things, I believe orthodontist can accomplish great things going forward. If you follow the other nine principles, systems, delegation, team training, experts in your life, etc. But they’re Rational Optimist. They don’t go off and just, you know, make decisions to do enormous things without any type of experts or feedback or data. They are rational about it. But they’re very optimistic, you don’t meet great leaders that have a pessimistic view of the future. Unless there’s a reason to like, Gee, I think the economy is going to crash. And maybe it will, hopefully not I don’t think it will. But you know, we’ve we’ve seen recessions they last a couple of years, and then everything bounces back. But the fact is that rational optimists you know, are very excited about the future. And they level four doctors have the low stress and the clarity of mind to think about, well, how can I do other great things in my practice and in my life. So level four leaders don’t just have great practices, they also have great lives. And that’s something I know that every orthodontist would like to have, and can have if they follow the principles we’ve talked about today.
Alison Werner 47:19
Absolutely. Well, Dr. Levin, Levine, they have lived in thank you so much for sharing all that. I really think that, you know, you were talking about how you know, the economy. There’s a lot of big question mark there. But these are all things that people can do, regardless of what happens with the economy. And if the economy declines, they can still work on it. And when it picks up again, then they’re in a good place to really benefit from that. So thank you so much. Of
Dr Roger Levin 47:46
course, Alison, I’ll end with this. My crystal ball only goes out five years. But I’m going to make a statement and a bet I think the next 10 years and orthodontics is going to be fantastic for so many doctors and so many practices. Business isn’t easy, but it can provide wonderful rewards, both satisfaction and financially and I wish everyone the best on this journey.
Alison Werner 48:10
As always, thank you for joining us. Be sure to subscribe to the orthodontic products podcast to keep up with the latest episodes. And be sure to check out orthodontic products online.com to keep up with the latest industry news. Until next time, take care