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Making Decisions Like a CEO--Part I

 

One of the most difficult responsibilities we face is decision making. Decisions must be made regularly in both our personal and professional lives. A CEO of an organization is often required to make challenging decisions. If you choose to start up your own practice upon graduation, you become the CEO of your organization.

Major reasons for failure among CEOs are the inability to make a timely decision or avoidance of the decision altogether. A Fortune article by Ram Charan and Geoffrey Colvin spoke on the main reasons for CEO failure. According to the authors, CEOs often fail due to poor execution, not getting things done, being indecisive, and/or not delivering on commitments. The side effects of not making decisions are lost time, increased stress, and loss of productivity.

The numerous reasons why people avoid making decisions include: fear of failure, attitude, fear of hurting someone, lack of confidence, and perfectionism. As we delve into each of these categories, take stock in yourself and consider those areas that you may need to work on before you become the CEO of your dental practice.

 

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure can be either a conscious or a subconscious filter that hampers your personal progress. People often do not write out goals due to their fear of failure. This strong inhibitor also ranks as a major barrier to decision making.

Many people take too long to make decisions and end up losing that moment at which a decision could have made a constructive difference. Author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said that many people have “paralysis by analysis.” Their fear of failure is so dominant that they feel it is easier, makes more sense, and is less risky to not take that step out into the unknown. Avoiding a decision may be easier than making one. If things don’t work out the way you think they should, you won’t have to say to yourself or hear anyone else say, “I told you so!” On the other hand, not making a decision can often be worse. Consider the improvements and successes you may miss out on. Though the results of making a decision may not be what you expected, the outcome may prove better than you could have imagined.

 

Attitude

Attitude plays a prominent role in how you approach decision making. Realize that not every decision will be the perfect one. If your decision does not yield the results you had hoped, take a step back and evaluate what happened. Has your goal changed? Did the plan of action have some weaknesses that need to be addressed? Should you have utilized resources, mentors, or coaches to help you along the path? At the time, did you think that you had to “go it alone”?

You don’t have to know everything nor must you be a master of all things. In this complicated and sophisticated world, no one can know everything. I have a corporate consultant that works with our corporation. There is no way I can know everything or that I can see everything clearly at all times. Sometimes I am too close to a situation to analyze it quickly enough and with impartiality. In addition, there is always someone who has more experience and knows more than I do, so I turn to those experts to “coach” our team to be better and better at all times. I honestly believe that the day we think we know it all or the day that we think we cannot get any better is the day we need to close our doors. We must be on a continuous path of improvement.

You have the same commission: constant improvement. The only way to achieve that goal is to step out of your comfort zone and stretch to new horizons. Risk is a must. No one has ever achieved ultimate success without taking some risk. Be prepared, you might not get things right the first time you take that risk. In fact, you are likely to make some mistakes. Instead of looking at a mistake as a failure, step back and focus on your progress. What did you do well? Do more of that. What didn’t go so well? Change it. Don’t let yourself wallow in a state of self defamation, self defeat, or loss of impetus. Alter what needs to be altered and take another shot at the project. Learn from those mistakes. You will come out better and stronger on the other side.

I am sure you will agree that in your personal life and in your career there have been instances when you have taken a long time to make a difficult decision. Once you made the decision, however, and took the steps necessary to move that decision into action, there was a sense of relief or a sense of accomplishment. Remember that carrying around the mire of thoughts in your head--knowing that a decision needs to be made-- can be stressful.

Write out and organize your thoughts. Write out a statement about the decision you need to make. Then, jot down the negative and the positive possibilities. What could go wrong? What could go right? Then, study your lists. If the pros outweigh the cons, go for it. You will have an immediate relief of stress. You will be on a path of action.

You may make mistakes but you will learn from them, and you will be wiser and better for those mistakes as long as you do not allow yourself to wallow. You must refuse to entertain thoughts like, “See I knew I shouldn’t have done that. I just should have stayed doing things exactly like I was before.” Another word for that kind of reaction is stifled. Do not let fear of failure stifle your life. Don’t develop “paralysis by analysis.” Be a leader who does a careful evaluation, then makes a decision.

 

Fear of Hurting Someone

The majority of dentists are, by nature, kindhearted. They have a level of compassion and caring that is rare among humankind. They are aware that many people perceive them as inflictors of pain due to the necessity for shots, cutting of periodontal tissues, cavity preparation, and so on. In reality, dentists don’t want to hurt anyone and often go out of their way to avoid doing so. All members of the team are that way: the clinical assistant, the hygienist, and the business team.

You will be no different as you take on your new role as dentist. You won’t want to hurt your patients: physically or emotionally. Because of this, you may find yourself hesitating to tell a patient what they need based on fear that you may hurt their feelings. In addition, you may do the same thing with team members. You may, at times, refrain from telling other team members things that may be bothering you because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. In fact, taken to an extreme situation, many doctors hesitate to release a team member who may not be working out very well or who may be causing problems in the practice because they don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings.

 

Lack of Confidence

Lack of confidence can relate to several different issues in connection with decision making. A person might hesitate in making a decision due to: (a inadequate skill level; (b inadequate skill level of a colleague or team member; (c insufficient preparation or training; (d timid or nonassertive personality; (e being “stuck” in the status quo; or (f poor leadership.

 

Perfectionism

Another major barrier to decision making is “perfectionism.” Some people are incapable of making decisions because they are still waiting for that perfect moment. Of course, there is no such thing as perfection so these people go through life “on hold,” waiting for everything to be “just right.” This also takes us back to the fear of failure. The fear that going ahead with a decision will provide anything less than perfection deters many people from moving out of their comfort zone or from moving ahead at all. In reality, many people who profess “perfectionism” are lacking in self confidence. It takes confidence to make a decision. It takes even more confidence to correct a mistake if things don’t go as planned or if the desired results are not achieved.

Perfectionism is not a foreign characteristic in the dental profession. Many dental professionals think that they have no margin for error – in their clinical dentistry or in their management skills. Dentist and educator Lindsay D. Pankey, Sr., professed striving for excellence in everything that you do. He knew there was no such thing as perfection and was making effort to relieve some of the self-induced stress that many professionals develop.

Begin your journey as a successful leader by being a better decision-maker. Start with a small decision. Work toward getting a constructive result. If things don’t go well, figure out why and come at it from a different direction. Then, go on to the next decision. As you are progressing, make an internal note of how things are going. Don’t forget to “pat yourself” on the back from time-to-time so that as you are working toward being a better decision maker, you will be constantly gaining strength and confidence.

 

To continue reading about this important topic, we suggest you visit Part II of this series on THE NEXT DDS by following this link: http://thenextdds.com/Articles/Make-Decisions-Like-a-CEO--Part-2/

 

*Founder and Chief Visionary Officer for Jameson Management, Inc.; International speaker, expert and author in practice management including the recent release of book Success Strategies for the Aesthetic Practice. www.JamesonManagement.com, 877.369.5558

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