Well Led? – Part 2

June 24, 2015

Dentists - are your staff well led?

As CQC now expects us to show evidence of good leadership in our practices, we need to stop and check out what that actually means. Thomas Cronin, author of Thinking About Leadership observes, “Managers do things the right way, while leaders are more concerned with doing the right thing.”

By focussing on managing practices and trying to keep everything in order, we leave little room for actual leadership activities and we need to develop a little self-awareness and use a little common sense.

Self assessing your leadership

Start with an honest inspection of your own situation by asking the following questions:

  • Can I summarise the practice vision in one sentence?
  • Can I imagine and describe the kind of environment in which I want to work and share that vision with my team?
  • How well do I identify the strengths and weaknesses of staff, and do I use those strengths and weaknesses in positive ways?
  • Am I happy to delegate and do I give enough information for things to be done well?
  • Am I willing to accept that I make mistakes?
  • Do I accept others’ mistakes, and use these as learning experiences for the whole practice?
  • What will the practice look like in two years, five years, and beyond?
  • Am I willing to empower staff to make decisions and think for themselves?
  • Do I believe we are making a difference to the health of the nation, no matter how small?

In order to develop and share our vision for our practice as a working business we need to develop this kind of introspection.

Communicating the Vision

Once you have found firm ground yourself, you need to communicate your beliefs. James O’Toole, author of Leadership from A to Z , describes this communication in broad terms, “The task of leadership is to communicate clearly and repeatedly the organisation’s vision… all with the intent of helping every person involved understand what work needs to be does and why, and what part the individual plays in the overall effort.”

This means using the vision you have as the model for everything that happens and to use it in all contact with staff at every level. Let everyone know as often as possible, in both subtle and dramatic ways, what this means for every activity in the practice.

The other thing you need to do is seek feedback on whether this is working!

Key questions

  • How are people who use the service (e.g. the public and staff) engaged and involved?
  • Does the provider value staff involvement?
  • Do staff feel engaged?
  • Are their views reflected in the planning and delivery of the service?

Ask staff? Well actually, it’s not a bad idea. We have to show evidence that we have involved staff and hold their views in mind when planning service development. The easiest way to do this is to perform staff surveys in the same way as we invite the views of patients. You might even ask the equivalent of the ‘friends and family’ test. Include the question – “Would you advise your sister/brother to take up a post at this practice?”

A sample staff survey is now included in the Quality Compliance Systems pack. I advise using this every three months in order to test your leadership skills. Use the results of this survey in planning quality improvement and even immediate action planning.

Sample Statement of Staff Involvement

You can introduce the staff survey with a Statement of Staff Involvement. Here is a sample adapted from one used in a Scottish Hospital:


‘The …Practice recognises that the delivery of high quality and sustainable dental care to patients depends largely on a skilled, motivated and productive workforce.’ As such, tribute is paid to the dedication and hard work of all staff at the practice.


Working together delivers a number of benefits and a commitment to partnership-working ensures staff have a real say in decisions affecting them. Therefore, our commitment to valuing the views of all staff working in our practice continues. The Staff Survey is now established, enabling staff to engage with management and share their views and ideas. The Staff Survey is directly involved in assessing the Leadership of the practice and results form part of the annual business review arrangements.

Dr John Shapter – QCS Expert Dental Contributor


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