If you want to attract elite team members, make it about yourself. 

The struggle was real for Dr. Cary. Having five pediatric practices in a rural part of the state made it hard for him to attract elite talent. Like everyone else, he needed hygienists and associates that would stick around longer than six months. He needed front desk help that could connect with patients and staff that went beyond the daily tasks. 

The interesting thing about Dr. Cary was that he had the leadership skills to lead a great team. The systems and processes he implemented created a high level of efficiency. His issue was that he inherited teams from doctors that had been there for years. 

He had successful processes and systems, but it was not what the team was used to, and he got pushback daily. Like most owners in his position, he relied on office managers that he didn’t hire and didn’t know well. 

The reality was sinking in that he was an outsider in the practices he bought. These teams had always done things a certain way, so why would they change now? In their defense, why would they change for someone that doesn’t intend to work in the practice? 

Fortunately for Dr. Cary, he had learned that every great leader possessed the same trait: They had mastered the art of self-awareness. He knew what he was good at and what he wasn’t. He learned that to be successful, he needed to continue using his strengths to grow the business and get outside help with the areas that challenged him.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.

Dr. Cary was a good communicator but lacked vision. Without that vision, he couldn’t define his brand and attract the ideal patients he wanted. This made it difficult to determine what values an ideal team member should have. Having a team that’s relatable to ideal patients makes it easier to retain them and get more referrals from them.

Instead, he did what most practices do. He looked at other postings for similar job listings, copied them, changed the tone a little, and posted them in the exact place every other practice did. 

Most of these ads were about the roles and responsibilities of the job. Almost all of them said the same thing. They also included great catchphrases “Work daily with a great team,” “We value work/life balance,” “Great hours,” “Great pay,” “Excellent training,” There wasn’t even much difference in salary and benefits. 

With the same type of ad, he got the same results: Minimally qualified applicants. He found himself in the position most people do. “We need a warm body, so bring them in for an interview.” This process continued the same cycle, and a few months later, he was looking for someone else. Being self-aware, he knew he needed outside help. 

The Leadership Journey

Dr. Cary had taken leadership courses in the past. Early on, he learned a valuable lesson that ownership isn’t a reward; it’s a responsibility. He knew that running a successful business meant it wasn’t about him. His success depended on his team. 

What was holding him back in hiring elite talent was that he needed to appeal to a broad group of candidates. He emphasized what he could offer them and felt confident his experience would be different. This is where the disconnect was. It’s just like saying, “we have a great patient experience if we could just get the right patients in.”

The reality was that he wasn’t giving people a reason to believe his experience was any different. He needed help.

When Dr. Cary hired a business coach, they started by establishing his vision. Without vision, he couldn’t connect with the candidates he wanted. 

Then they worked on connecting that vision to his brand. Great leaders are great at developing brands that people can relate to. Whether business or personal, a great brand ultimately creates a feeling of belonging. This belonging is the key to building trust. 

Ideal candidates want the same thing ideal patients do. They need to see themselves there. They need to feel a connection to the people and the practice. To build that connection, Dr. Cary would have to do something he was uncomfortable with: Make it about himself. 

The Brand Journey

While working with his business and brand coach, Dr. Cary started to lean into what was important to him. He valued the outdoors, family, and helping the community he served. 

Through the leadership brand process, he realized that his ideal patient was the busy mom that wanted to know that they were doing right by their kids. He had been focusing solely on the experience the kids were getting that he hadn’t paid attention to the needs of the moms.

He developed a new slogan, “Where moms smile too!” It wasn’t just about connecting with the moms in the community; it drove his culture and ultimately helped him define his vision. He wanted every mom that came into one of his offices to feel significant and cared for, just like the kids. 

He developed a communication platform that focused on making moms feel like great parents. Having this in place inspired culture and buy-in from the team. They got excited about the brand and finally had the clarity they needed to connect the expectation of leadership with the expectation of the patients.  

The Branded Leader

With the vision, culture, and brand in place, there was still the need to hire great talent for a growing team. Dr. Cary realized he would naturally attract people like him through those who believe in him. He would attract people that valued family, the outdoors, and community. 

In making it about himself, he created a brand of authenticity and relatability that builds trust with his team and the community they serve.  

Dr. Cary doesn’t hire outside recruiters anymore or post uninspiring ads online. Dr. Cary takes a different approach: He created videos to show prospective associates and future staff members what it would look and feel like to be part of his practices. 

He shows his best side through videos and team photos on his website and social media. He is a husband, father, little league coach, and respected team leader. He’s authentic to himself and relatable to the staff he wants to attract. 

He might run the occasional employment ad, but he doesn’t have to. His team and patients are his best recruiters. 

The Leadership Brand

Building a leadership brand means connecting with your ideal candidates and patients by being relatable and authentic. Learn how Dr. Cary did it by talking to a brand coach.


About the Author Ben Shaver

For over a decade, I've guided growing dental practices and groups on how to use leadership and communication to build referable teams and memorable brands.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}