As many experienced doctors know, learning and applying the technical aspects of optometry or ophthalmology is only half of what it takes to be successful. Whether a doctor is running his or her own solo practice or working as an associate alongside many others, leadership plays an enormous role in setting the course for your professional career as well as the future of your practice as a whole.

Here are some leadership qualities we often see successful vision docs portray in their own practices:

  1. Have a clear vision – If a patient were to walk into your practice a year from today, what would be different? What about five years? Or ten? Having a written, clearly-defined vision for your practice not only help set future goals and objectives for sustaining and improving patient care, but it also gives your team a target to shoot for each and every day.
  2. Get your team motivated – Motivate your team in a style that matches the vision of your practice. Setting clear goals and measuring success through performance targets is a great way to increase productivity and keep everyone on task. Learn how your team responds to different stimuli as well. If you sense your morning routines are becoming drab and motivation is low, consider having special days, change in dress, or activities that involve patients to help shake things up.
  3. Don’t settle for less – With competition at an all-time high in the vision industry, now is not the time to sit back and coast when it comes to providing excellent care each and every time a patient is in the chair. Excelling in all areas of your practice, from friendly customer service when a patient walks in the door to the actual treatment itself and your own bedside manner, will all play pivotal roles in determining the success of your practice.
  4. Continuing education = continuing success – Continue to challenge yourself to grow professionally and personally every day. Whether its books and articles, classes, or professional peer groups, find a way to continually develop and hone your leadership skills.
  5. Be a good example – When it comes to your actions, attitude, and reactions, how you control your own emotions will become a clear indicator of how the rest of your team should control theirs. Maintaining a positive energy and treating each team member with respect are key elements in developing your role as a successful leader.
  6. Clearly communicate your expectations – This is an area where many doctors (and bosses in general) really struggle. Developing great policies and procedures for your practice is great in theory, but if none of those ideas and expectations are communicated effectively, they become useless. Reinforce your expectations in employee handbooks, morning huddles, and one-on-one meetings with staff regularly. Hearing the same expectations daily reiterates their importance and helps keep everyone on-track.

Becoming an effective leader doesn’t happen overnight, and it most certainly doesn’t come without intentional effort. How successful you are at becoming an effective leader ripples through every aspect of your vision practice, and can in many cases make or break the success of your team as a whole. With some patience and practice, though, any optometrist or ophthalmologist can mature into a great leader and set their practice on course for many years of success and prosperity.