27 min readThe Jameson Files 106 – Leadership with Dr. Cathy Jameson

Carrie Webber

Carrie Webber [00:00:10] Hi everyone and welcome to the Jameson files. I’m Carrie Webber and I’ll be your host today and I am honored and thrilled to have with us as our guest today Dr. Cathy Jameson our founder here at Jameson. 

Carrie Webber [00:00:25] And my mom. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:00:26]It’s great to be with you. It is great to be here. 

Carrie Webber [00:00:30] It’s great to have you here. 

Carrie Webber [00:00:31] When we first launched this podcast we knew one of the first ones we wanted to do were episodes with you and with Dr. Don obviously. To not really just talk about where things began, but to talk about the continuation of those foundations that you started 30 years ago that continu to be so powerful and relevant for doctors and teams and practices today. 

Carrie Webber [00:00:58] So for all of you listening today what I really want to talk about is leadership. Ken and I know that’s a broad topic that is a very broad topic. So I want to just focus in on it with you because I know you have such a heart for leadership in dentistry and you got your master’s in psychology. You have your bachelor’s in elementary education master’s in psychology and you went on some years ago to get your AP HD in leadership. And I wanted to ask you at that time you’d already been working in dental practices working with doctors and teams for some time. What was it that led you to choose leadership as such a focus of your attention your study based upon the work that you were doing at the time. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:01:53]It’s a good question. After spending so many years in practices helping practices thrive we have base everything that we do on good communication whether it no matter what the role is of a person in a practice how they communicate makes all the difference in the world. But as I was working continuing to work in practices all over the country in fact all over the world I saw a single thread that really ran through successful practices or on the flip side of that practices that had problems moving forward. And it was either the ability to lead or the inability to lead. And in my opinion everyone in a practice is a leader right. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:02:33]We are first of all leaders of ourselves, and so people decide how they’re gonna approach every day they decide how they’re going to handle their care of patients. They actually decide also how well they’re going to interact with one another. So those three issues are become very important to the success of a practice making a decision to thrive in your own right to continue education to bring a good attitude to work to really do all that people expect and perhaps a little bit more every single day. And then the team becomes so critical. People working well together. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:03:07]A dental practice is so intricately coordinated one person coordinating with another that if one person isn’t functioning at their utmost that’s going to affect other people through the practice. So again the systems are intimately related. So are the people. So I really believe that each team member is also not only a leader themselves but their leader of each team member their teammates. 

Carrie Webber [00:03:31] Right.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:03:32]So that again if you are looking at the definition of accountability. Accountability is in two words clear expectation. So a team member needs to have clear expectation about what they are supposed to do how they’re supposed to do it when they’re supposed to do it. And when they fulfill those expectations, then the next person can coordinate with that, and know “I would be able to count on him or her to do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. That means I’m going to be able to do that too.” So it’s a huge leadership piece in learning to be a leader of teammates. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:04:07]And certainly last but not least is being a leader of patients. So I tell people this is true. You can’t, nor would you want to, ever push a patient into making a decision. We couldn’t even if we wanted to. That’ll just push people away. But we can lead patients to making decisions hopefully good ones good decisions that lead them to make a decision to go ahead with the treatment that the doctor is recommending or the hygienist or whoever it may be. So as I say as I work with practices and saw this these threads right of the call for leadership and the need for leadership the practices that get that and studied the skills of leadership and integrate those skills in the practice thrive. And the ones who don’t, either stay the same or they may have they may have some growth, but they’re not maximizing their potential. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:04:57]I suppose over the years if you were to ask anyone that’s ever worked with us and anybody who’s ever been in a practice consulting one of our coaches or advisors, if I asked all of them, What do you think is the most important thing that makes a difference as to whether a practice thrives under our guidance or not?” it would be leadership. So… 

Carrie Webber [00:05:17] Speaking to that and we look at the beginning saying it’s such a broad topic. But interestingly at the time this is being recorded and we are preparing for one of our leadership sessions that you lead several times a year for Jameson, and we always ask doctors and team leaders that are coming, you know, questions before they arrive in terms of what elements of leadership are they are they hoping to to work on in those two days with you. So between that and the work you’ve done consistently over the years on the focus of leadership. Are there some particular areas or gaps in leadership that you see consistently? Maybe accountability is one of them or lack thereof. But are there two or three that if people that are listening are really wanting to take a good hard look at themselves as leaders and where they could be better, chances are they could focus on one of a few areas. Are there some that you see on the regular?

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:06:16]I do. But you make a very good point. There are so many different aspects of leadership. Each one is critical. Each one is so valuable. But leadership is a set of skills, and they are skills that can be learned. So I want people to take heart and if they think I’m just not a good leader well everyone has the potential to be a leader. It really has nothing to do with personality.

Carrie Webber [00:06:40] Right.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:06:41]There’s different personalities of different leaders. It’s more the intention is the more the intention and the commitment to being a continuous learner and developing those skills throughout time. Accountability is a big issue. So accountability, number 1, is clear expectations about what someone is supposed to do, how they’re supposed to do it, when they’re supposed to do it. But what a lot of people leave off in terms of clear expectations is what are the expected end results that I am to obtain in my position in practice. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:07:12]So there’s some disappointment some sometimes on the part of a doctor let’s say of a member of a team. This is an example. They may not feel like that person is fulfilling the their role effectively. But if you look back and peel the layers and say well did they really clear on what they’re supposed to do? Had you provided the training that they needed to be able to excel? Did they have the tools that they need and perhaps most importantly did they understand why what they’re doing is so important to the whole? There’s no there’s no role there’s no responsibility there’s no big job or a little job. Everything is so critical to the whole but it’s the why behind it that motivates people. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:07:56]So the doctors let’s say in this example I’m using… This would be true for anybody but this example… The doctor understood that and really invested time money energy and effort into that continuous development of their team. The bottom line is as each person on the team becomes more productive and if you pool all that increased individual productivity the practice is going to thrive. It can’t help but thrive. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:08:23]The other thing that’s interesting in the research about today’s person in the workplace. This has probably been always true but certainly it has bubbled up to be a vital part of a happy person and a thriving person in the workplace today. The people in the workplace today want to be challenged. They want to continue their education. They want to stretch. They want to be a part of what’s going on. They want to be a part of writing goals and designing plans of action and being a part of a project not just being told what to do and just thrown into the wind to do it but rather to be an active part of it. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:09:00]That’s very exciting to me. That to me is a great practice or a great organization when everyone on the team wants to participate. They want to give to the whole they want to see the practice thrive in this example. In fact a talented person, which of course that’s what you want on your team, is talented people. But a talented person will leave an organization if they are not challenged. And then the other part of that is that people want and need to be rewarded for work well done. And I’m not talking about money. There’s a part there’s a place for money. There’s no question people have to put food on the table a roof over the head. There’s a place for money but the research has shown emphatically that a person wants more than anything else to be appreciated, to be recognized, and to be valued and to be appreciated for their contribution to the whole. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:09:56]And people will leave an organization if they feel unappreciated much more quickly than they’ll leave the organization to make more money down the street. So that’s also a skill for some people some people it comes naturally to express appreciation. Some we will have to be taught how to do that. 

Carrie Webber [00:10:12] When I think within that all around revolving around accountability, you stated several leadership elements that obviously shows that one builds upon another builds upon another. Because you you spoke about clarity of vision. If a doctor or a leader isn’t clear on what their own vision or expectations of practice performance or systems performance or team performance are how can you ever know how can the team ever excel and when nobody knows what they’re working on.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:10:45]So true. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:10:46]And setting of expectations. Communication skills because communicating that vision and those expectations and you taught me this and you speak to this a lot. That assumption is the lowest form of communication and. 

Carrie Webber [00:11:05] If you out there as leaders are struggling with a system or with a team member or whatever it may be in your practice. If you were assuming that things were being done a certain way but it was never communicated you know or that the team member may be assuming they’re performing just fine and or they’re doing it right because no one told them told them otherwise. Or you may be assuming things are happening a certain way and they’re actually not. 

Carrie Webber [00:11:33] But the communication isn’t taking place. So how interesting that so many pieces of leadership build up together to form what can provide effective accountability really in confidence in holding people accountable and holding each other accountable. Can we count on each other to do what needs to be done in the way that it needs to be done. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:11:57]And really that’s what trust is. Trust is being able to count on people to do what they say they would do when they say they’ll do it and so on. It’s very difficult to build trust. It’s very easy to break trust, and almost impossible, it can be done, but very difficult to rebuild trust. So that’s where the more open the lines of communication, the more steady the feedback and those… Again, we want a horizontal style of leadership where there is there are open lines of communication where people feel like they can go to the owner the CEO the the dentist say and say this could be better. This we’re having problems here and not feel frightened to do that but realize that while let’s say if somebody came to me I might not agree with them necessarily but I want to be respectful to listen to the point of view and I might learn a lot. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:12:51]So again the communication which ties into feedback sometimes leaders think oh well people don’t need feedback. If I don’t tell them they’re doing a bad job they should just assume that they’re doing great job well that that’s just not the right way to work with people. That’s just not true. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:13:06]In fact with a human being no feedback at all or no reinforcement. Let’s put that it that way. No reinforcement is connoted by a human being as negative reinforcement. So when we can understand the inner workings workings of a human being and integrate an appreciation respect and understanding of human nature we understand that we all need feedback. Whether we need to be developing something that we are not doing well… I want to know that so I can improve. But also if I’m doing things really well, or just steadfastly right, consistently and you can count on me–a little recognition for that and acknowledgement of that is very valuable. 

Carrie Webber [00:13:47]So let’s say that there are people that need to be a little more cognizant of showing appreciation or of setting those expectations and making sure they’re creating that environment that is healthy, just like your book “Creating a Healthy Work Environment” states. You and I both have been studying James Clears book, “Atomic Habits.” Something that he says, you know, that you need to do tiny changes to shift. 

Carrie Webber [00:14:15]He went deep into habits, but it was great because we felt a lot of sense of, “Oh yes that’s exactly what we think!” That you know you don’t rise to the level of your goals you fall to the love level of your systems and these elements of leadership really are processes within ourselves to keep our leadership intact and keep our team performing the way that we want them to. As we start, as these doctors and leaders try to create better habits of leadership, are there certain triggers that they could set for themselves like Mr. Clear says to set those triggers you know make it easy for yourself to remember to do these disciplines. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:14:58]It’s a day to day thing. It’s an everyday thing. So if a doctor let’s say that the doctor was studying delegation, which is a wonderful aspect a very creative and productive part of a practice or any business is to number one nurture the talent of the people that are there, discover those talents and nurture those talents and then provide the training and development for individuals and then trust them with the delegation of those responsibilities. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:15:28]Ultimately in any business you want to do the things that only you can do and delegate the other things to people who are qualified and who want to do them. It’s a very difficult thing for some people to do so. I’m just using that as an example so let’s say that what we teach a lesson where we have people write down what they do in their position and then we write them one through five. Not that everything they do isn’t important. Everything they do is important. So it’s not about importance but what are the things that are most productive for the organization and then write them one two three and four and five and the ones being the most productive the things that they’re doing that are the most productive for the organization. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:16:07]Ideally when you look at that across a practice let’s say you would define what are the things that people are doing individually that are the most productive for the practice that that person can handle and handle well. So that’s a place where a doctor could start. Now you want to focus on the ones twos and threes. The fours and fives, while important, I ask people to look at them and say, “Could we refine this and do this more efficiently?” Okay, great. That would give us time, given the opportunities, more time on the ones twos and threes. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:16:39]Number two is: Could this be outsourced? Would it be more cost effective actually for us to outsource this so that the people on the team could focus on the things that are ultimately productive for the practice? It’s a very good thing to do. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:16:52]Number three is: Could something be delegated? Could it be delegated to someone within the practice maybe who has the desire to do that? The talent and the wherewithal to do that? And really you look at their plate and say what’s on their plate. Could they accept this or do we need take something off their plate to accept this and elevate their own capabilities and opportunities than the practice. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:17:15]So this whole concept of delegation might be a place where a doctor wants to start right and that exercise that I just gave you. While it sounds complex it’s really not but it’s so vital. Ultimately what you want people that do to repeat is to do the things that only they can do or the things that they do the best or that they love the most and they can put the most energy into. And again the results of delegation are going to be accelerated and improved productivity and actually a lot more joint fulfillment for the people in the practice. So that’s an example of a critical part of leadership one phase of it an exercise to determine. Other things that could be delegated. Sometimes doctors hesitate to delegate to people they just don’t realize the talent that’s right there in their own practices. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:18:06]People have asked me over the years what’s kept me on the road doing what I’m doing for so long and I said you know it’s seeing someone that may not have even realized their own potential or their own talent or their own capabilities and to see them thrive and become more than even they imagined. And so for me that’s been my greatest driving force right. I think for a practitioner as well when a doctor sees the people in his or her practice become more than they even imagined possible. It’s so fulfilling and rewarding and it becomes the glue that keeps the practice together and a team thriving you know so. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:18:50]Accountability, delegation, and I’m just gonna throw my two cents in, in terms of what in my opinion is probably one of the top three important pieces to work on as a leader and that’s communication. 

Carrie Webber [00:19:02] Oh absolutely. You know I think the other two aren’t successful unless you do have, exactly, skills of communication. How does a person if they’re watching say you know my team is not engaged or I don’t know who I would delegate something to if I could. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:19:22]Right. I don’t know if anybody would want to do anything else because they’re there. I haven’t spoken to somebody recently that they’ve just said our team they’re showing up, but they’re not really there yet. We’re having to start from scratch in terms of engaging the team and involving the team do you what would you recommend would be a healthy first step if someone listening said Okay this is it. I’m drawing a line in the sand we’re gonna change the culture of this practice. We’re gonna hold each other accountable. I want to delegate more and empower more people, and I want them to engage in that with me. What would you recommend that they do to begin that process?

Carrie Webber [00:20:00] We do say here at Jameson that communication is the bottom line to your success. And I believe that with all my heart whether it’s with the relationships with the team or whether it’s freelance relationships with the patient as I was indicating earlier so and communication is a set of skills right. Gonna have a pretty good attitude you got to want to communicate well gosh I bet if I can see the value, the benefit, of improving communication, then I’ll do a study of communication skills. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:20:27]I’m a big fan of and have studied many years with Thomas Gordon and his work in effectiveness training and that his while he is no longer with us his organization and team is with us. Marvelous communication skills though there are other places to go to actually study or read about or have a have a workshop in your own practice because you referring back to us asking people that were come to leadership what they wanted most write goals for leaders ship are and almost everyone if they’re listening three or four goals or whatever they may list communication skills are always in there and I really respect and appreciate that because you’re right no matter what we’re doing how we communicate makes all the difference in the world. 

[00:21:10] So even though it may not be natural for people even though it may be stepping out of their comfort zone a study of communication skills and then slowly but surely (the habit process) start with listening, starting with the view that the skills of listening and learn to listen… Again just because I listen to somebody doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with them but it’s my way of showing them I respect. 

Carrie Webber [00:21:34] Yes.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:21:34]I want to hear and perhaps I could open myself and learn a lot myself by listening to others and when people realize that they’re being listened to they will be more willing to share. There’s all kinds of things that can be learned from the people that are in the trenches so to speak, if we just listen. And then learning how to speak in a positive constructive way rather than a destructive way. Some people are so afraid of confrontation because we’ve never learned how to do that and we mess things up. But confrontation when it’s handled skillfully and from a place of grace can be a place where, perhaps challenges can be resolved and instead of having relationships separate we can be stronger on the other side because we’ve discovered something that perhaps we have different points of view or that maybe we’ve never challenged one another. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:22:23]But if we care enough to communicate about this we can resolve it. On the other side of resolution of a problem let’s say is a strengthening of the relationship. Once those relationships are strengthened and bonding occurs with people they can almost get through anything. So I totally agree with you the right occasion skills are the bottom line to any success whether it’s of individuals or the systems of a practice. And if there’s ever going to be a breakup or a breakdown of relationships it’ll almost always be traced back to communication problems. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:22:56]Don’t you agree. In terms of all of us as leaders that are continuing to develop our communication skills. It isn’t easy at first especially when there is emotion in it. It can be very challenging but. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:23:13]You may not be perfect at it. None of us are perfect out of it. It may be really difficult just like you said at first but I think most people can see that authentic intention then tension for good. Even as you’re stumbling through it. 

Carrie Webber [00:23:28] Exactly.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:23:29]Don’t you think that that’s the case. In fact I often will will recommend to people if I’ve taught listening and speaking and conflict resolution problem solving. So these are new skills just like the first time you picked up a hand piece you weren’t comfortable with it in practice practice practice practice. Habit. The development of habits once again. So if I were if I had gone to the course and communication skills and I came back to my team I might say to them hey I’ve gone to a new course I’m not going to be great at this yet but. And so bear with me right. My purpose and my intention is to do a better job of communicating with each and every one of you as well as with our patients. So I’m going to ask for your support and I’m going to commit to you them I continue to work and study these skills because what I want is for us to have great great communication and that will translate to great production. I had to say it, but –now available at jmsn.com! But also you know the relationships would be so much healthier so again people feel like they’re going to be vulnerable sometimes if they’re honest. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:24:39]What happens. Most of the time is it’s really not vulnerability. It’s honesty. And there’s a a deepening of the relationship when there’s an honest conversation that comes from your heart. And you said something interesting a little while ago about communication can be emotional. 

Carrie Webber [00:25:00] Yeah.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:25:00]Well all communication is emotional. In fact, all emotion… All conversation all communication is a combination of both content, whatever it is you’re saying, and the emotion behind it or within it. And we really can’t separate the two. So sometimes people say oh I don’t like all this feeling stuff. I don’t talk about emotion. Well, all communication is a combination of content and emotion so you never will separate it. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:25:26]And so it’s might as well wrap your arms around that like it or not you have entered a profession that there’s a lot of emotion because you’re dealing with you know your patients health and well-being and so so you are, you know, in the midst of emotion all the time. So best to work on how to navigate that emotion in the most effective and healthy way possible. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:25:50]I really think that people can listen their way to case acceptance if we really give ourselves our attention a hundred percent to a patient and we ask questions and really open ourselves up and listen, there’s all kinds of things to be discovered. And when a patient is listened to, or a team member, they feel valued and the relationship is enhanced. So it’s all about, instead of just talking talking talking and telling telling telling, it’s really all about listening. 

Carrie Webber [00:26:17] Right.

Carrie Webber [00:26:18] So accountability delegation communication for those listening that want to take a step forward in any of those areas. What are some hard questions for them to ask themselves to get started you know kind of maybe some guiding questions so to speak of you know a little homework a little homework. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:26:41]Well I think it starts with first of all. I would I would encourage somebody to say where do you believe you are doing a good job leading leading yourself teammates and patients. I would start in the positive. Where do you really feel like your strengths are. 

Carrie Webber [00:26:54] Yes.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:26:54]Now I always want people to start with their strengths but also and and pat themselves on the back internally or by themselves internally for this is good. This is going well. I feel I feel like I’ve really made some progress here. This is a strength. It’s OK to do that but then ask the more productive question. That is how can I do everything that I’m doing a little bit better. 

Carrie Webber [00:27:16] Yes.

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:27:17]And then the second part of that is to say are there areas of the practice where I would like to set goals as a leader myself. Again no matter what the role in the practice what areas would I like to see enhanced. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:27:28]What areas do I feel like could be improved upon related to leadership. Could I be a better communicator. Am I delegating effectively. Are people thriving in their roles in my supporting them as they are learning and growing and developing. Am I trusting and can people trust me. People in workplace today want to trust their executives and the executives want to trust them. 

Dr. Cathy Jameson [00:27:52]Dental practice. I don’t want the doctor to go back to the chair and have to worry about anything else that’s gone on with the practice so smoothly set up the system set up so beautifully people very beautifully trained and educated and developed in administering those systems and then monitors in place where they can say is this working or not. Then if it’s not to communicate that but again in a healthy effective way not as a lambasting but as a these things are going well great. Let’s keep on doing more of that. There’s some things I believe we could do better. Let’s put this in on the table and see where we can go to make things even better. Every single step of improvement in leadership will lead to enhanced relationships and ultimately in the research is proven will translate to increased productivity for the practice.

Carrie Webber [00:28:41] There’s we could go on and on and on and I look forward to doing more episodes with you. Thank you for your continued study of what is such an impactful an integral part of our careers. Those of us that lead find ourselves in positions of leadership or as you said are looking to lead from within whatever position we have in our careers. Your study and your education to help us refine and learn skills to be better is making such a positive impact. So I think it does. You’re very welcome. And ultimately it will lead to healthier happier lives in the practice and out. I look forward to another episode with you very soon. Thank you for being with us. If you’d like to follow Cathy you can find her blog at Cathy Jameson dot com. You can also find her books on the Jameson website at JMSN dot com. 

Carrie Webber [00:29:46] Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Jameson files. Visit us online at JMSN dot com. 

Carrie Webber [00:29:55] You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes Google Play Music or Spotify. See you next time. 

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