Free Newsletter Call Email

September 1, 2023

Top 10 Leadership Strategies!

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide.  What I have found is that everything begins and ends with the leadership team.  It‚Äôs what leaders do, allow, or accept that cultivates the culture.  If the leadership team is not aligned and cohesive it will be difficult to get the team aligned and cohesive.  Here are my top 10 strategies to build and aligned and cohesive team. 

Strategy 1- United We Team.  The We team consists of everyone involved with leading the team.  It could be as simple as a solo doctor without a manager.  In this case very simple to be united with oneself.  ūüėä However, once there are two or more it takes a focused commitment.  The leadership team would include doctors, managers, team leads and anyone in a role that is responsible for leading other team members.  The leadership team must always be supportive and united in front of the team.  Any difference of opinion or disagreements must always be handled behind closed doors.  Otherwise, it can create confusion and chaos within the team.    

Strategy 2 – One Message.  In order to have one message the leadership team needs to be on the same page.  Owner doctors will need to establish four core values to build around.  Email me at to receive a Core Values Sample Page.  Weekly leadership meetings help keep the entire leadership team in the loop and on the same page.  Choose the same day and time every week and reserve it a year in advance.  It is at the weekly leadership meetings that discussions and agreements are made.  It is important to put the agreements in writing and save the information in a meeting log.  Once agreements are made they are shared with the entire team at a team meeting.

Strategy 3 ‚Äď Open Communication.  Open communication includes the entire team.  A team meeting setting works best to allow time for introduction, discussion and implementation of new ideas or changes.  It is important to get feedback from the team members that will be responsible for doing the work.  Never introduce a change or new process in a memo.  It does not allow time for discussion and will limit end results. 

Strategy 4 ‚Äď Model the Waddle.  In other words, lead by example.  This is the number one leadership principle.  There are no exclusions, no exceptions in essence no double standards.  I often hear, ‚Äúbut Judy Kay I am the doctor.  I can do what I want.‚ÄĚ  Yes, they can but not without exceptions.  It is not what we say but what we do that inspires our team to follow our lead.  Leaders must always walk their talk.  For example, they need to be engaged and positive if they want their team to be engaged and positive. 

Strategy 5 ‚Äď When to Lead Versus Manage.  Know when to lead and when to manage.  Leadership is defined as the ability to influence and guide people. 

Leading is providing a big picture view to the team and motivating them to be a part of the vision.  Once the vision is clear it‚Äôs time to manage.  Management is directing and controlling the process to reach a goal. Managing turns the vision into reality by setting and measuring smaller goals for the team to reach the end goal.    

Strategy 6 ‚Äď Hire the Right People.  The right people are those that fit the team and practice culture.  Evaluate as a team the aptitude, character traits, and skill sets necessary to perform the job.  Never trade character for skills.  Skills can be taught whereas character is innate in the person.    

Strategy 7 – Training Benchmarks.  Establish clear and consistent training benchmarks for new hires.  Define what the minimum level of performance will be for each benchmark.  Create weekly benchmarks for the first three months.  Create monthly benchmarks for three months to twelve months.  Clear benchmarks create clear expectations for the new hire as well as the existing team.

Strategy 8 – Accountability.  Leaders need to hold everyone equally accountable.  No exclusions or exceptions or it will feel like favoritism and divide the team.  Adress negative words, attitudes, and actions as they happen daily.  The verbiage I like to use is, ‚ÄúHow does _________ support our core value of _________?‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúHow does what you did support our standard process of _________?‚ÄĚ

Strategy 9 ‚Äď Appreciation.  Appreciation is not just nice to do fluff stuff!  Appreciation gives team members value and purpose.  It is also feedback on performance.  Leaders catch your team members doing things right and show appreciation.  Appreciation motivates.  Criticism demotivates.  What is rewarded gets done.

Strategy 10 ‚Äď Celebration.  Celebrate successes daily.  Morning huddles provide an opportunity to share successes from the day before.  I am not just talking about the financial goal.  Highlight positive patient interactions as well as positive team member to team member interactions. 

Implementing these 10 leadership strategies will help you build an aligned and cohesive team.  

August 1, 2023

Four Cornerstones to Strengthen Teamwork!

I love this quote by Phil Jackson; ‚ÄúThe strength of the team is each individual.  The strength of each member is the team!‚ÄĚ 

Here are four cornerstones to strengthen teamwork!






Trust is a cornerstone of happy, healthy, and high performing teamwork! The dictionary defines trust as instinctive unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something.  The trust I am suggesting is not one of blind faith but instead one of confidence!  Confident trust is based on consistency!   Consistency of good reasons to trust based on significant past evidence and experiences.

Some examples of a low trust:

‚ÄĘ          Difficulty getting the team on board and willing to follow their lead

‚ÄĘ          Not keeping the team in the loop with details that pertain to the patients, team and practice

‚ÄĘ          Adding rules or steps for everyone to compensate for the inadequacies of a few

‚ÄĘ          Extra staff to cover for lack of accountability with a specific team member

‚ÄĘ          Redundant systems and processes

Together as a team create your list of Trust Agreements. 

‚ÄĘ          Be transparent by keeping everyone in the loop

‚ÄĘ          Be consistent with daily tasks

‚ÄĘ          Address questions or concerns with only the source

‚ÄĘ          Help when you see help is needed

‚ÄĘ          Ask for help when help is needed

‚ÄĘ          Do what you say you will do when you say you will

‚ÄĘ          Don’t gossip and stop gossip

‚ÄĘ          Tell the truth using compassionate words and tone

‚ÄĘ          Don’t be late or absent for trivial reasons

Core Values

Healthy team cultures rely on clear and consistent core values.  They will help guide the team‚Äôs attitude, behavior, and communication.  It’s very difficult to get others to follow our lead if we don’t even know who we are and what we stand for.   Owner doctors, what 4 adjectives in order of priority describe your core values?  Email for a sample list. 

They are important for the entire team to know and understand as they will help guide making decisions.  Defining the core values will help avoid the distractions of the daily mundane and other people’s shoulds.  They will also establish a strategy for how to show up every day.  Core values become a blueprint on teamwork expectations.  Every action, attitude or conversation is to be examined before proceeding.  Does this action, attitude or conversation support the core values?  

Clear Communication

Healthy team cultures are built on open and honest communication.  Doctor to doctor, doctor to team, team to team and team to doctor.  Clear communication, conveyed through defined channels, is critical for teamwork.  Larger and multi-location practices will benefit greatly by creating and following a clear and consistent communication flow chart.  The flow chart will define who goes to who, when and how. Positive and honest feedback will build trust and create clarity. 

Encourage team members to ask questions, address concerns, as well as discuss processes and procedures.  There are so many moving parts in a dental practice.  Chaos and discord will arise without ongoing clear and compassionate communication.  Together as a team create your list of Communication Agreements. 

Clear Roles

Everyone on the team needs to understand their role and responsibilities that contribute to the team‚Äôs success.  It is important for every team member to become proficient at their role as well as cross trained to help support their co-workers.  Cross-training also helps create an awareness of their co-workers‚Äô responsibilities and lessens judgment. 

Every team will experience ups and downs with staffing.  Putting untrained or inexperienced people in roles will lead to frustration, stress, accidents, and mistakes.  Sustaining successful teamwork requires a commitment to ongoing training.   Establish clear training expectations for new hires that include specific weekly and monthly goals.  There will be times that training will take a priority over productivity.  Investing in training time on the front end will reap quicker quality results on the back end. 

Cultivate the four cornerstones, trust, core values, clear communication, clear roles, in your practice and you will harvest happy, healthy, and high performing teamwork!

December 1, 2021

Keeping Your Team Engaged!

Keeping your team engaged starts with understanding and identifying the different levels of engagement.  There are three levels of engagement: Rowers, Riders, and Resisters!

Rowers – Engaged Employees – are passionate about¬†their work and¬†feel very¬†connected and loyal to the practice.¬† They are always looking for ways to improve performance and patient care.¬† They are focused on¬†the big picture of helping¬†the practice¬†succeed.¬† They base their success on the practice’s success!

Riders РNot Engaged Employees Рare essentially checked out.  They can be difficult to spot.  They are just coasting through their day by putting in time without energy or passion.  They are thinking about lunch, who just called on their cell phone, or what they are going to do when they get off work.

Resisters – Actively Disengaged Employees – are unhappy at work and demonstrate it¬†in their words and actions.¬† They monopolize the doctor/manager’s time (always having to issues that need addressing), have more on-the-job accidents, create¬†more quality concerns, are sicker and miss more days.¬† They undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish and sabotage the practice.



Clear and Consistent Expectations

We start with an open and candid conversation clarifying expectations and¬†the¬†results desired.¬† Go deep enough to explain what, who, when, where, why and how.¬† So often time’s when delegating things are left¬†unsaid.¬† Assumptions are made resulting in frustration for the doctor, the manager, and the¬†employee!¬† If¬†the employee is not clear on expectations, they cannot¬†possibly deliver.¬†¬† If you are thinking, they should just know that, or I already told them once…I don’t need to tell them again…your results will be limited!

“If you don’t ask for what you want don’t be angry when you don’t get it.” ~ Judy Kay Mausolf


Appropriate Equipment and Supplies

Next is making sure the team has the appropriate equipment and supplies to maximize efficiency and get better results.  It demonstrates to the employee that their work is valued because you were willing to give them the support needed to do their job.  For example, a specific instrument to aid your hygienist in safely cleaning around dental implants.  It is important to ask employees if they have what they need to be able to do their job efficiently and effectively.  The initial cost is outweighed by the ROI of increased performance, service, and productivity.

I have found men are usually much better at¬†getting the right equipment and supplies whereas women will try to make do.¬† This summer¬†my husband Steve and I¬†went a little crazy with filling our deck with pots¬†of flowers, succulents, and evergreens!¬† It became¬†huge watering chore for me because¬†we did not¬†have a hose up on the deck.¬† I¬†have been traveling a lot more for business…which means Steve has become the water boy!¬† Surprise!¬† I came home to¬†find a¬†faucet and short hose up on the deck.¬† Watering is now so easy it is fun!¬† What¬†used to take me 1/2 hour or more¬†now takes¬†under 10 minutes!¬†¬†We have just¬†tripled my productivity and¬†increased job satisfaction by having the appropriate¬†equipment and supplies!¬†¬†


Focusing on Strengths 

We focus on identifying and building on¬†each team member’s strengths. This one step alone can change productivity by as much as¬†12.5%.¬† The best opportunity for people to grow and develop is to help them discover their innate talents.¬† It just naturally creates a feeling of wellbeing¬†when we can do something well.¬† We enjoy¬†our work more.¬† Focusing¬†on a team member’s strengths is a far more effective and positive approach than¬†constantly¬†focusing on¬†their weaknesses.¬†¬†¬† When employees know and use their strengths, they are more engaged, have higher performance, and are less likely to leave the practice.

Research shows that the management style of¬†focusing on the positive strengths¬†reduces active¬†disengagement to 1%.¬† Whereas a negative focus management style¬†produces 22% disengagement.¬† Surprisingly, being ignored¬†causes the most damage at 40% disengagement!¬† The old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything¬†at all!”¬†is not a¬†successful management style.¬† It¬†delivers to the most¬†negative outcome of all.


Which response would your employees say best reflects the management style in your practice?

  • My manager/doctor focuses on my strengths or positive characteristics.
  • My manager/doctor focuses on my weaknesses or negative characteristics.
  • My manager/doctor does not say anything at all, and I feel ignored and invisible.

Leadership teams can help engage the team by creating clear and consistent expectations, providing appropriate supplies/equipment, and focusing on strengths!

Contact Judy Kay today if you would like to learn more about how she can help you get your team ENGAGED and WORKING together to build a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture! 

November 1, 2021

How to Encourage Accountability! Part 2

Training is often a culprit of lack of accountability.  It is difficult to complete a task if we are uncertain how it is to be done.  Uncertainty lessens accountability!  Set standards for the practice by defining one way instead of multiple ways.  Standards create consistency and consistency escalates excellence.  The more consistent we are the more accountable we become resulting in a higher performing team and practice.  Provide personal training and cross training as well as entire team training to get everyone aligned on the same page.



Asking for help is being accountable.¬† Give your team permission to ask for help when needed.¬† Asking for help can often feel like a weakness when in essence it is being accountable to make sure the job gets done.¬† There are some team members who have OCD ‚Äď Over Committers Dysfunction.¬† You will often here them say; ‚ÄúI got this!‚Ä̬† when they have so many plates already spinning, they can‚Äôt possibly get them all done.¬† Saying yes can sometimes be less accountable then delegating or asking another person for help.

Prioritize tasks as there will be days even the entire team can’t get everything done!  If we communicate and get the rocks done, we will be okay.  I utilize the rocks, pebbles, and sand analogy to help teams prioritize their responsibilities.  A rock is anything that is important and urgent (needs to be done that day) or there will be negative consequences for the practice.  The biggest rock is always the patient right in front of us.  Everyone helps everyone with their rocks (as long as it is legal, ethical and within their licensure) before going on to their own pebbles and sand.  Once all rocks are completed, the team member may move on to their pebbles.

Pebbles are also very important but not urgent.  Pebbles are never delegated because they can be done another day without affecting the practice negatively.  Everyone is responsible for their own pebbles.  A pebble can eventually become a rock if left undone based on change in urgency.  For example, ordering supplies might become a rock if you must order that day, or you will run out of necessary supplies before they arrive.  Even washing uniforms may become a rock if there are none available for the next day and it is close to closing.

Sand is the filler to fill in open time with cleaning and organizing.  Sand is also never delegated.  Everyone is responsible for their own sand.  This helps to prevent delegating the things that are less desirable.

Confirming by checking in when a task is completed is part of accountability.  It keeps everyone in the loop and ends the night wondering/worry of whether a certain task was completed.

Clearly defined consequences are necessary.  An accountable high performing team is dependent on supporting the patients, the team, and the practice standards.  Our job is whatever is legal, ethical, and within our licensure to help the team and practice thrive!   We must choose to support our patients, team, and practice if we want to be a part of the team!

October 1, 2021

How to Encourage Accountability! Part 1

Just hearing the word accountability often results in a big sigh, rolling the eyes and that ugh feeling.¬† Let’s face it cultivating accountability can seem like a daunting task.¬† What usually pops into mind are the words babysitter or micro-manager from past failed attempts at trying to get others to be accountable. We often give up after two or three attempts to hold the person accountable.¬† We feel that the effort isn‚Äôt worth the frustration.



However, without accountability, execution suffers.¬† Performance deteriorates when we don’t hold ourselves or others accountable to getting work done well and on time. The more we let things slip the more acceptable it becomes to let them slip again.¬† A day becomes a week, a week a month and finally not at all.

I am often asked by my clients and audience members; ‚Äúhow many times do I have to ask or remind someone?‚Ä̬† My response is always until they do it or you let them go.¬† Otherwise, your culture reaps the result of lower performance.¬† Culture always starts with the leadership team.¬† It is either what leadership does or allows which becomes viewed as accepted by the team.

There are always consequences when there is lack of accountability to the patients, practice, and team.  Therefore, there must also be consequences to the person who is not being accountable.

Without it, it is difficult to get people to assume ownership of their own actions because they believe they will not face any consequences.

Here are ways leaders can demonstrate and encourage accountability.

Establish clear job expectations.  What are the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly expectations?  I like to use S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. Timely


Communicate daily and address any concerns immediately.  We often let things go a few times before addressing.  The concern is once something is allowed (not addressed) it is considered acceptable.  Nip things in the bud as soon as they happen.

Have constructive conversations.¬† Notice I did not say constructive criticism.¬† I have yet to find anything constructive about criticism.¬† A constructive conversation starts out with what you appreciate.¬† For example, ‚ÄúI really appreciate, or I really like that you did ____…And I would add ______ to make it even better.‚Ä̬† Notice I used the word and not the word but.¬† The word but negates what was previously said.¬† The word and builds on what was good.¬† Three positive comments to one growth opportunity make a good conversation.¬† Five positive comments to one growth opportunity make a great conversation!¬† We want to build our team up and make them feel more confident.¬† Confidence helps nurture accountability.

Read November’s Show Your Shine for Part 2 of How to Encourage Accountability!