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Great Leadership Starts with Me First- insights from the PDS Leadership Conference

Posted on Aug 09, 2018 09:27 pm by asdohasdablog

When I received an email from ASDOH ASDA about the Leadership Bootcamp in Las Vegas, I immediately signed up without any hesitation. At the beginning, I didn’t expect much since I was just looking forward to enjoying the weekend with my classmates. However, I soon came to realize the entire experience was well worth the trip! Friday night was wonderful. The fountains of Bellagio danced to a spectacular show of music, water and light. The strip sparkled hypnotically and surrounded us with excitement. It was so energizing that the night flew by.

Saturday came and we were at the ASDA District 10 Leadership Bootcamp hosted by Pacific Dental Services. I made sure that my body was caffeinated so that I wouldn’t doze off. The caffeine did little but the presentor, Dr. Cari Callaway, had a way of captivating her audience. “Who do you think is a great leader? What makes them a great leader? And why is leadership necessary?”, she asked the 150 dental students in the room. I’ve read a few books and articles about leadership. They all ask the same questions. The answer can be simple and easy for some, but for others like me, they can be complex and sometimes unclear. 

According to John C. Maxwell, “leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”  As Dr. Callaway continued to explain, there are three hats of leadership as a dental professional. We need to lead ourselves, our patients and our team. Great leadership starts with ourselves. No one will ever be able to lead others until they can lead themselves effectively. This was one of my biggest take-aways as I frequently fail to understand myself and my situations clearly. My narrow-minded view often makes me doubt how others think of me. With this mentality, how can I lead myself first and be a great leader? How can I go from good to great?

This conference helped me answer these questions and come up with concrete strategies to see my goals through.

First, I learned that leaders can be broken down into five different levels: Level 1: Highly capable individual – Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills and good work habits

Level 2: Contributing team member – Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in group setting

Level 3: Competent manager – Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives

Level 4: Effective leader – Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards

Level 5: Executive – Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional willLevel five leaders have a ferocious resolve to do whatever it takes to produce results. They ensure their success not by selling their persuasive or elaborated story, but get their work done efficiently. In addition, great leaders look out the window to give credit for their team’s success, while they look in the mirror when appointing blame.

Second, I learned the hedgehog concept: This concept was introduced in the book Good to Great written by Jim Collins. It intersects three different assessments:

What you are deeply passionate aboutWhat you can be the best in the world atWhat drives your economic engine or what is your one big thingI found myself strugging with these questions since my goals were Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG), rather than SMART goals. BHAG seems dauting and unattainable, but are often used in an organization to serve as the team’s focal point. On the contrary, SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely and effective in creating transparency within an organization. So how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! It starts with a small step. For me, BHAGs keep me dreaming big, while small SMART goals help me change my ideas into a reality. Third, I learned why all these leadership qualities and goals are important: Whether we decide to open up our own future practices or practice with a group, it is key to develop a vision and core values. We should think about our individual strengths and strategic plan. Our goals and plans should always be in alignment with our visions. Ask yourself, “Does this goal take me closer to or further away from my vision?”


In order to set our goals, we only need to follow these five steps:  Write a tangible and accountable goal. Design a plan. Identify who is responsible.Activate your goal. Evaluate your goal.From this conference, I was able to get to know myself better and discover my true potential to be a leader. There are no overnight successes. It’s a daily cumulative process to become great, so build up and break thorough! Alice Choi, ASDOH ‘20 With that, here are some other testimonies from my ASDOH peers: “The PDS Conference was informative. Their speaker helped me realize how important it is to be a leader and a boss in not just dentistry but all aspects of my life.” – Alfredo Castano, ASDOH ‘21 “The speaker talked about a variety of different aspects related to leadership. But what really stood out to me was the business management aspect. Her elaboration on business management aspects of dentistry were both eye opening and priceless.” – Arad Samadnejad, ASDOH ‘21 Resource: Leadership Boot Camp- Developing Your Personal Leadership Style To Accelerate Your Growth by PDS University

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