Are you trying to be the leader and manage your dental practice at the same time? Owners of small businesses often try to handle both roles at once. It’s a frequent mistake.


This post outlines the critical distinction between a CEO and a manager and explains why it’s not a good idea to try to handle both at the same time.



CEO and Manager: Two Distinct Roles

The difference between CEO and manager is the same as the variance between leading and managing.

A dental practice CEO assesses the condition of the practice and establishes its mission. The CEO primarily asks and answers questions. Where has the practice been? Where is it currently? Where is it headed? This is the role of the owner of the dental practice, who is the visionary.

By comparison, the practice manager distills the CEO’s answers to the preceding questions into an action plan. Doing so requires skills like analysis, organization, training and handing off certain tasks. The practice manager is on the ground, overseeing the daily tasks of running a dental practice in order to implement the CEO’s vision.

Steps Great CEOs/Leaders Take

Certain steps are critical for the CEO of a dental practice to ensure the success of the business.

Step 1: Divide and define the differences between the roles the CEO and manager.

Step 2: Hire a capable dental practice manager you can trust and with whom you want to collaborate.

Step 3: Let that manager do his or her job.

Step 4: Stay in touch. Schedule regular staff meetings and training sessions.

Step 5: Keep asking questions of yourself and your staff. How are we performing against our practice gorals? Challenge everyone, including yourself, to develop ideas for improving dental care for patients.

Step 5: Think constantly about becoming a better leader. Consider leadership seminars or workshops. How do your peers improve their skills as leaders? Ask them and listen to what they say.

Step 6: Keep an eye on critical metrics. Look constantly at patient retention and patient acquisition numbers and other KPIs. Share with your practice manager your vision for the practice’s future.

This is called leading. Dental practice leaders see the big picture to guide their businesses into a brighter tomorrow.

Actions Top CEOs Avoid

First, avoid micromanaging your practice manager. Overloading on responsibilities is the most common bad habit of small business owners.

Getting bogged down in the daily details blinds you to the bigger picture and robs you of the time and energy to gather the data you need to lead. Hire great staff you can trust and let these professionals do their jobs. Your focus is leading your practice.

And second, avoid thinking you know everything. You don’t. No one does. Keep current on the latest dentistry developments so you can keep improving the quality of dental care your practice provides.

Master the latest technologies and procedures. You cannot delegate this task. Always learning is a primary piece of advice that large company CEOs offer to small-business leaders.

Third, and above all, avoid conflating leading with daily managing. Keeping the two distinct will open the time and space you need to be the best CEO you can be for your practice.