Date ArticleType
11/3/2014 Modern Dental Business

Coaching Good People to Become a Great Team

Coaching Good People to Become a Great Team
by Cindy Ishimoto

Teamwork is at the heart of all great achievement. The question isn’t whether teams have value, it’s whether we acknowledge their value and use it to become better team players. Without a well-functioning team, you know that your practice will be held back and that you will waste a great deal of your energy. When your team is in a state of disharmony or dysfunction, everyone and everything is held back. On the other hand, when your team is coordinated, working cohesively toward a common set of goals, and they feel a sense of co-ownership of your practice, the practice can’t help but thrive.

Achieving your greatest potential for working well with others means moving toward team building. If you can work effectively with other people, you can be more productive. Team building brings further fulfillment because it lets us extend ourselves through true collaboration, reaching beyond natural style similarities and differences.

Team building lets us appreciate the contributions of our co-workers, as well as our own. As a result of our efforts to help ourselves and others achieve success by collaboration, the work environment becomes a place for personal fulfillment. It becomes a place where we can experience a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives through personal and team development.

Teams involve more people, thus affording more resources, ideas and energy than would an individual. Teams maximize a leader’s potential and minimize his/her weaknesses. Strengths and weaknesses are more exposed in individuals.

Teams provide multiple perspectives on how to meet a need or reach a goal, thus devising several alternatives for each situation. Individual insight is seldom as broad and deep as a group’s when it takes on a problem.

Teams share the credit for victories and the blame for losses; this fosters genuine humility and authentic community. Individuals take credit and blame alone; this fosters pride and sometimes a sense of failure.

Teams keep leaders accountable for their goals, individuals are connected to no one and can change the goal without accountability. Teams can simply do more than an individual.

If you want to reach your potential or strive for the seemingly impossible, you must become a team player. Individuals play the game, but teams win championships.

Only with excellent communication can a team succeed, it doesn’t matter whether that team is a family, a company, a ball club, or a dental practice. Effective teams have teammates who are constantly talking to one another. Communication increases commitment and connections, which in turn fuel action. If you want your team to perform at the highest level, its members need to be able to talk and listen to one another.

Communication refers to the style and extent of interactions both among and between members and those outside the team. It also refers to the way that members handle conflict, decision-making, and day-to-day interactions. The success of your team and the ability of your team members to work together depend on good communication.

Every team has to learn how to develop your practice communication systems in four areas.

1. From Leader to the Team: The single all-purpose instrument of leadership must be communication. If you cannot communicate you will not lead others effectively.

You must live by three standards: Be consistent. Nothing frustrates team members more than leaders who can’t make up their minds. Be Clear. Your team cannot execute if they don’t know what you want. Don’t try to dazzle anyone with your intelligence; impress them with your simple straightforwardness. Be Courteous. Everyone deserves to be shown respect, no matter what their position or what kind of history you might have with them. If you are courteous to your people, you set a tone for the entire organization.

Teams are a reflection of their leaders. Communication is never one-way. It should not be top-down or dictatorial. Good leaders listen, invite, and then encourage participation.

2. From Team to the Leader: Good team leaders never want yes-men or yes-women. They want direct and honest communication from their people. Leaders never want to hear: “I could have told you that wouldn’t work.” If you know something beforehand, that’s the time to say it.

Besides directness, the other quality team members need to display when communicating with their leaders is RESPECT. Leading a team isn’t easy, it takes hard work, and demands personal sacrifice, and it requires making tough, and sometimes unpopular, decisions. We should respect the person who has agreed to take on that role, and show them loyalty.

3. Among Teammates: Few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be. For a team to experience success then all its team members must communicate for the common good, exhibiting the following qualities:

A. Being Supportive: Ask not what your teammates can do for you, ask what you can do for your teammates. When communication is focused on giving rather than getting, it takes the team to a whole new level.
B. Staying Current: teammates who rehash old problems and continually open old wounds don’t work well together.
C. Being Vulnerable: Teams are like little communities and they develop only when the people in them don’t posture with one another.

4. Between the Team and the Patients: When approached by patients, team members must be receptive, realistic, and responsive. If they receive communication from patients gracefully, they must always respond in a timely fashion, and be realistic about setting and receiving expectations they will do well. The patients will perceive that their concerns are being respectfully handled.

When it comes down to successful team communication, it takes cooperation and that must be made from the “we” perspective, not the, “me” perspective. Working together means winning together, no team works together unless it’s communicating. It takes interaction to fuel actions.

Your team is the “lifeblood” and the “heartbeat” of your dental practice. A great team is made up of “a group of leaders focusing on a common set of goals.” Success abounds when the time, talent, and potential of the individual members of your organization are focused on those goals.

Having a great team does not have to be just a dream. You can create your “dream team” with consistent work on decreasing chaos in your practice, by having organized systems that are efficient and effective, by providing an environment that is conducive to growth, and by focusing on team building, utilizing exquisite communications.



Cindy Ishimoto 300dpi 2013 

Cindy Ishimoto has over thirty years of experience in the dental industry, initially as an assistant and business auxiliary, then progressing to a management position, and now as a dental consultant and speaker acknowledged by Dentistry Today as one of the leaders in dental consulting from 2006 through 2015. Her knowledge of all facets of dentistry, people skills, motivation and communication are reflected in her ability to teach and train. Cindy's love of people and dentistry enable her to share her enthusiasm to build successful, people-oriented businesses.
Cindy can be reached at 808-375-7344 or online at