Three Types of Dental Team Leadership

Leadership and management advice from Cathy Jameson

Three Types of Dental Team Leadership 1

Types of Leaders 

Leadership is one of the most important aspects of any company, especially one that works with children. Dr. Cathy Jameson identifies three types of leadership that should be executed in pediatric dentistry. 

Leader of Yourself 

Leadership starts with us. We make decisions about ourselves each day and it’s important to bring a positive, enthusiastic, and joyful attitude. Being a leader of yourself is a critical first step to being a leader of others. Ask yourself:  

Make sure to come in with the attitude of a servant leader and put away challenges in your personal life. Once you get to the practice you are there to take care of others. Be enthusiastic! Parents want to be sure that their children will be taken care of and the team wants a confident leader. You should reflect gratitude, helpfulness, and positivity. 

Prepare yourself each morning by taking a moment of meditation or prayer and listen to positive music on the way to work. Make each morning your ritual to prepare yourself to be enthusiastic for the children and your team. 

Leader of Others 

Be a good team member. Accountability is clear expectations or the “when” and “how” to do things. Don’t come in with a negative attitude. It’s important to make sure all the systems or group members are working well together. Make sure clear expectations are set: 

Leader of Patients and Parents 

As pediatric dentists, it is important to be strong leaders of both parents and patients. Help lead parents towards a healthy decision for their child. 

Clear Expectations and Feedback 

What should you do when you need to give feedback, good or bad, to the team? Feedback is best given in the form of a question like, “Wouldn’t this be better than that?”. In most instances, feedback should be given at a scheduled time at a private setting. Send an email with a set date, time, location, and topic for feedback. Make sure to address feedback as soon as a misstep is noticed. It’s helpful to bring to someone’s attention something that needs to be changed in a constructive and positive way. 


I-Statements take responsibility. Ask questions like “Have I shown you this effectively?”. Show them what you are talking about. Demonstrate. “Have I shown you this in a way that makes sense?”. A you-statement is a put-down. “I would like it done this way” comes across differently than, “You’re doing this wrong.” 

Positive Feedback 

Always give positive feedback when you can. Point out the actions and other things that were done well. If they have improved upon previous feedback say, “Hey, you did this so much better. Thank you for putting forth the effort to do this better than yesterday.” Make sure to be specific about what you liked 

Make sure to acknowledge the team as well when a specific goal has been reached. This could be done at a team meeting or casually. One of the most important things to do is to celebrate the small victories along the way. Appreciation outweighs any other rewards. Acknowledge the small steps along the way. Again, appreciation is the best motivator.  

Keep in mind that no feedback is perceived as negative feedback. Sometimes people believe that their work doesn’t matter since they assume that it’s not making a difference because they are not getting feedback. 

Remember that the work that you’re doing matters and is making a change in child’s life. 

Cathy Jameson 

Cathy Jameson is founder of Jameson Management, an international comprehensive management and marketing firm with 25 years of work with dental practices worldwide. With a background in education, psychology and management, she worked alongside her husband, John H. Jameson, DDS, in his rural Oklahoma dental practice. Their diligent efforts led to great success. Now, almost two decades later, she’s helped dental practices refine the 25 dental business systems for greater success and she’s trained a growing team of advisors and speakers to do the same for clients worldwide. Cathy is an acclaimed speaker and best-selling author with her most recent book, Creating A Healthy Work Environment, released in fall of 2015. Visit for more information or contact