Home Dental Episode #635: What To Do When Leaders Are Out of Alignment, with Courtney Dalton

Episode #635: What To Do When Leaders Are Out of Alignment, with Courtney Dalton

by adminjay

Being conflict-free isn’t the secret to success — it’s your ability to work through conflict with your leadership team. To help you move past disagreement and misalignment, Kirk Behrendt brings back Courtney Dalton, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, with a treatment plan for getting your leaders on the same page. You don’t all need to agree, but you do need to align! To learn the steps to start moving forward, listen to Episode 635 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Read Traction by Gino Wickman

Read books by Simon Sinek

Download ACT’s OGT Tool

Main Takeaways:

Establish your core values.

Create leadership agreements.

Have great leadership team meetings.

Know your outcomes, goals, and targets.

Be accountable to the plans you put in place.


“Leaders being out of alignment is something that, as coaches, we see all the time. It’s why a lot of practices seek a little bit of help. There are several of us in our community right now that are going through some misalignment — and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just something that happens as time goes on, and it’s so important to call it out and to address it so that you can move past it.” (1:59—2:24) -Courtney

“Agreement and alignment are not the same thing. You don’t always have to agree as partners. Sarah and I don’t always agree. But what we have to do for the health of everything else is we have to align. So, whether you’re a one-doctor practice, a three-doctor practice, an 11-doctor practice, it’s very important that — we may not agree, but we’re going to be aligned before we leave this room so that people can see that we’re aligned, because I’ve been on the other side of it. When you have leaders and they’re not aligned, everyone else can feel it. It’s palpable in your business. You don’t have to say a word.” (3:39—4:15) -Kirk

“Just like your kids know when something is off, so does your team. They can feel it. We love to say this all the time — as goes the leader, so goes the team. If they see that something is out of place, they feel it. They’ll pick up on it and they oftentimes will replicate it, or at least challenge the crack that they see.” (4:32—4:52) -Courtney

“First thing, right out of the gate, you have to be meeting as a leadership team. You have to have time — predictable, consistent, regular — set aside to meet as a leadership team. If you don’t have that time set aside, the problems, the issues, stack. And now, you’re in fire mode. You’re just trying to put out all the fires. Whereas, if you have the time set aside every Wednesday at 8:00 a.m., every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., whatever it might be, you have that time set aside to sit down together and go through your list of subjects that you need to touch on for the day. It’s so important. It’s absolutely where you have to start.” (5:47—6:31) -Courtney

“Do you have time for a successful practice? Do you want to have a great team, and a happy team, and a happy balance? Then you have to add [leadership team meetings] in. We know this to be true of our teams because our ACT teams are having weekly team meetings. You’re not going to take a hit in your production if you do it the right way. Everything will be okay. Everything will be worse if you don’t set this time aside.” (6:51—7:20) -Courtney

“The single most important meetings I have in any week are not client-facing. They are alignment meetings with leaders because we’re going to go to work. We’re going to go work hard on things. It’s almost like not treatment planning for a very large case. Think about this. A case comes in your office, a lot of complex dentistry, and you’re like, ‘We don’t need to treatment plan this. I know what to do. I’m just going to start doing the dentistry.’ That’s silly. It’s like building a house without a blueprint. That’s silly. The alignment meeting is the cornerstone.” (8:10—8:42) -Kirk

“You’ve got to run a really good leadership meeting. You might say, ‘We’ve tried that.’ And if it sucks, we need to call it out. You’re just not doing it right. A great leadership meeting should energize you. You should be talking about metrics, issues, to-do lists. Boom, boom, boom, boom. It should be efficient, it should be fast, and you should say to yourself when they’re done, ‘What an amazing investment of time.’” (8:49—9:10) -Kirk

“If you don’t have an agenda, a template, something to follow, at ACT Dental, we could certainly help you with that. You have to have something that is predictable every week, somewhere that as a leader you can go in and write down your thoughts. If you’re in between patients, if it pops into your head, put it in your agenda so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. We know you’re busy. We know that you’re providing amazing care to your patients. We don’t want these problems, issues, questions, concerns, or any of that to get lost. Throw them into your agenda so that when the time comes in these weekly meetings that you’re having, you can go through each of them and give them the time and the space that they deserve. You can either make time for the meetings, or you can make time for the problems. It’s about perspective now.” (9:15—10:08) -Courtney

“Hopefully, step number two puts the pieces into place towards being aligned, leadership agreements, standards of behavior, the ways that you want to treat each other, and the ways that you want to present a united front to your team. And if you’re already having these regular weekly meetings like you know that you should be and you don’t have leadership agreements, you have to get them now because we’re imperfect. We’re going to have great days, not so great days — and that’s okay. We want to be sure that, as a leader, you’re still presenting to your team united with your partner or partners because, again, your team sees it. They feel it and they understand what’s happening even when you don’t think they do. So, you have to have rules of engagement, rules of behavior, among your leadership team so that you can present that united front to the rest of your practice.” (11:01—11:58) -Courtney

“You can agree to disagree. And what’s your solution to that? Do you choose what’s right in the moment, and then say, ‘We’re going to come back to this a month from now and reevaluate’? That’s a perfect example of a leadership agreement. When we don’t agree altogether, that’s okay. But we have to agree on something to continue to move us forward.” (15:05—15:27) -Courtney

“You have to come together. You don’t always have to give up on what you believe, but you do have to get together, and you do have to be aligned in order for things to be healthy around you. There’s no great practice that we coach where everyone agrees all the time. No way. As a matter of fact, the better they are, the more they actually disagree.” (16:08—16:25) -Kirk

“Great teams aren’t in the absence of conflict. They are really good at conflict resolution. They see it, they call it out, they get it done right away, and they move on, thus making them powerful leaders to follow.” (17:07—17:22) -Kirk

“All roads lead back to your core values. If, at the end of the day, you establish these leadership meetings and you have your leadership agreements, go back to your core values and make sure that that alignment piece is still in the same spot it was when you decided to start this partnership or this agreement together. If your values don’t align, we might need to have a separate conversation. Your core values that you’ve set in place — and if you haven’t, we will provide you with a resource to help you figure out exactly what those are — are so important. They guide every decision you make. So, if you are still having conflict, or there’s still no time for leadership agreements, and there’s still some misalignment, go back to your core values. It might feel complicated. That’s okay. Work through it again.” (17:33—18:24) -Courtney

“Your core values are everything. You’re going to use them in good decisions, and you’re actually going to use them more in bad decisions. You’re going to go, ‘Wow, this is really hard. What do our values say?’ They’re non-negotiable verbs. I’m telling you, when you put the flag in the ground and you say, ‘This is how we behave, and this is who we are,’ everything gets better.” (18:29—18:46) -Kirk

“If two partners don’t align on a value system, it never, ever, ever, ever, ever works. It only works if one of them gives up on who they are. They go, ‘I’m just not going to be the person I always wanted to be because I need money, and I don’t want to address this conflict.’ And so, you have to give up on who you are in order to stay in that relationship.” (18:49—19:11)

“Step number four really has to do with, what do you want and how are we going to get there? At ACT, we call it our OGT Tool, our Outcomes, Goals, and Targets Tool. Broken down, you need to figure out what each of those three really important categories are and what they mean to you. So, your outcomes, when you sit down and say, ‘What do we want? How do we want to feel at the end of the day? What are we really searching for?’ write it down. Your goals are the steps that you’re going to take to get there, and they have to be measurable and tangible. If we pick a certain outcome, how are you going to get there? What does that look like? And then, your targets are your KPIs. They are your data points that you’re using to measure how you’re achieving those goals and if you’re achieving them. They’re the tools that tell you what to do if you’re not quite there yet. So, really sitting down and figuring out the feeling, what that outcome looks like — remember, together, because you’re on a leadership team together — how you want to get there, and then the data that measures those steps are really, really important.” (20:29—21:36) -Courtney

“Make your plan, stick to it, and move forward together. So, you’ve established your weekly meetings. You’ve discussed what your agreements are going to be as your leadership team. You’ve measured your core values. You know what they are. You take them to heart, and they define who you are when you step into your practice. You’ve sat down together, you’ve worked on your outcomes, your goals, your targets, where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and what’s going to tell you if you’re on track or off track. That’s your plan. Stick to it. Then, the word I’ll use here is accountability. Hold each other accountable to the plan that you’ve set and move forward. Don’t stop having your weekly meetings because that is your time to be aligned. That’s your time to talk about the bumps that come and how you’re going to get over them. So, make your plan and keep going. Keep moving.” (26:33—27:30) -Courtney

“As goes the leader, so goes the team. We opened with it, and I think it’s appropriate to close with it. Be united. Talk to each other. Call out the elephant in the room, whatever it may be. Establish your core values. Establish your leadership agreements. Present a united front to your team, and good things will happen. It is not the teams that have no conflict that succeed. It’s the teams that do have conflict because they learn how to work through them. So, if you’re in this place of misalignment and you’re feeling a certain way internally, you’re not alone. And this is actually a good thing because we can figure out how to get you moving forward to the next step. Go back to your core values. All roads lead to your core values, always.” (28:47—29:37) -Courtney


0:00 Introduction.

2:30 Why alignment is important.

5:38 Have great leadership team meetings.

10:55 Create leadership agreements.

17:28 Everything leads back to core values.

20:22 Know your outcomes, goals, and targets.

21:36 More about ACT’s OGT Tool.

26:28 Have accountability.

28:33 Last thoughts.

Courtney Dalton, BS, RDH Bio:

Courtney Dalton is a Lead Practice Coach who focuses on establishing a solid foundation in order for a practice to thrive. With over 15 years of experience in the dental industry, she is as passionate about patient care as she is about those who are providing it.

Courtney has an A.S. in Dental Hygiene from Manor College and a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from West Virginia University. Outside of coaching, she enjoys teaching group exercise classes and spending time with her husband, Dan, and children, Lola and Levi. 

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