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Professional Pairings: Like Fountains and The Bellagio, which Leadership Styles Enhance Each Other?

By Rachael Maddox, ASDOH ’20

When thinking of Las Vegas do extravagant shows and glittering lights come to mind? This past September, the land of no clocks and endless opportunity had a trick up its sleeve: leadership. Yes, I know. Leadership styles may not sound as glamorous as one might expect, but magic tricks rarely are. Many leadership styles were presented, ranging from authoritative to pacesetting, but the intrigue lied in the thought that professional pairings exist. Leadership pairings can breed efficiency and motivation by bringing out the best in certain styles and synergizing them with like ones that supplement their downfalls, rather than isolating particular styles to islands of conflict, circumstance, and situation. Let us consider servant leadership, as discussed by Pacific Dental’s Dr. Cody Mugleston.

Servant leadership is based on a mindset of abundance. The goal is to better the team and promote success from within. Individuals who utilize servant leadership have to be hungry yet humble, and driven yet coachable. These couplings bring about trust, which allows for emotional and intellectual investment leading to loyalty and productivity. Dr. Mugleston described a notable moment of servant leadership in his office. He was completing a crown preparation for a patient and asked his assistant, “Crystal, do you think this is ready for me to hand off to you?” He gave her the opportunity to critique his work. She responded, “I think the mesial edge could be smoother”. So, he proceeded to follow her advice and continued perfecting the prep. He acknowledged this moment because not only did he build trust with his assistant, but now he has instilled the patient’s trust in his assistant. Where this style of leadership can falter is the time it takes to build trust and the challenge of integrating engagement in practices with a high degree of structure. So what style might pair well with a style founded on sharing power but is short on time? Let us consider authentic leadership.

Authentic leadership is similar in that it encompasses positive and rewarding relationships, but the relationships are established with objective evaluations and cohesion tailored to specific tasks. Authentic leaders set high ethical and moral standards for their work, and these standards are met with consistency from the practice as a whole. In the dental office, authentic leadership would be demonstrated in preferential preventative dental care. Demanding that preventative dental care be a focus of the team means placing the patient first. Consider a patient that is at risk for carries due to failing sealant. Instead of anticipating that the patient will be back in 6 months needing more invasive care, which would potentially yield greater income, the dentist would suggest, and expect his or her team to anticipate, that the sealant should be addressed now. This demonstrates transparent intentions not only in the dentist to the patient, but the integrity and priority of the dentist to the dental team. The trade off however, is that morality is subjective and that subjectivity can compromise the team. There can also be concern for the priorities of the leader overwhelming the organization as a whole. So how can authentic leadership be advanced? By allocating control and elevating interpersonal relationships.

Bringing together leadership styles that share a foundation of interpersonal development can sustain more definitive, focused, and consistent goals. Servant leadership offers opportunities for development via trust, while the authentic leader remains steadfast to standards that are established rapidly. By building an ethical code a team can rely on and implementing engagement, these two leadership styles will find themselves better equipped to problem solve and succeed as a succinct unit.

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