Running a group practice is filled with excitement (
sometimes), motivation ( usually), and a crazy amount of endurance, coupled with the ebb and flow of fear of failure, uncertainty about your decisions, and plain old wonder about what it is you are actually doing. Yes, we all weave through these states at all stages of ownership. One year in or twenty years in, as we grow, things change, we change, and our vision or goals change, leading us to question how we lead and manage our practices. Leadership is often an area that business owners feel uncertain about.
So without further adieu here are some things that I have learned about leadership as a group practice owner.
- Shit happens. Sometimes not the way you want or expect. It will leave you frustrated or questioning your abilities. Remind yourself of the work you’ve put into your business, your reason for starting a group practice, and the common humanity of it all.
- You know less than you think. There were so many times that I thought I was on a roll, getting things done, everything seemingly going well, giving myself a metaphorical pat on my back for jobs well done, when wham! A curve ball knocked me over and left me stunned. There are great opportunities for growth in these moments, a renewed sense of inspiration.
- You know more than you think. I often spent time second guessing myself (and still do when making big changes!), despite having thought through my ideas and decided they were good choices. But the second I put those ideas in place, doubt crept in. I’ve learned to listen to it, scan for it’s validity, and move on. Trust your gut.
- Having support is paramount. I have several friends who are group practice owners, whom I regularly meet with to bounce ideas off of. So often, my own fears, insecurities, and concerns were met with understanding and empathy. Not only did I not feel alone in these thoughts, we also helped one another (and still do!) fine tune our skills and gave each other great feedback. I also received consultation as I was growing from someone who was at a place that I wanted to be in my group practice.
- We aren’t always in control. Having employees (or independent contractors for that matter) means that you lose a sense of control of your practice. When you are a solo practitioner, you are the sole person behind most aspects of your practice. When you have clinicians, your business, brand, is hinged on the success, character, skills, and abilities of your clinicians. Sometimes clinicians make mistakes, and as the owner of the practice, we must learn to ride the current of those mistakes, not take them personally, feel responsible, or resentful. It’s in these instances that we practice our leadership skills, teaching, understanding, and helping our clinicians grow.
- Trust others. This seems obvious in many ways, but it was something that took me time to actually follow. Early on, I noticed that I liked to micromanage things, make sure that certain things were done in just that right way, just so. It wasn’t in all things, but particularly expecting things to be done on my time. As you grow, you learn to lean on others for things; billing, accounting, possibly marketing, reception, supervision. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the people I hired to do those things, but that I wanted them done and off my plate, like now. Intellectually, I knew this was not rational, but somehow I’d find myself checking in to see if those things were done. This may not be your problem, but you will find that as long as you hire good people to help your business thrive, trust is key. Letting go of those things, but actually letting go is so important for your well being as a practice owner.
- Do less of some things, more of others. This one was hard. As a perfectionistic, control all things and outcomes, mind running a mile a minute person, this piece was-and still is-the hardest part of the puzzle. We often bounce in and out of states of do it all and do nothing. Motivation to knock your own socks off with your determination, and a state of overwhelmed to mush. Letting go of things in my business, saying no if needed, and trusting others (admin, biller, outsourced folks) to do those things for me has freed up time to see clients, take care of my clinicians, and spend more time with my family. If you feel like you are doing too much, stretched thin, not able to do all the things you want in your practice, it is time to get help. List out the things you are doing in your practice that you don’t like to do or where your times is not used well, and outsource it. Read more about outsourcing here.
What I realize most about leadership is the importance of being confident in yourself, trusting yourself. It’s also about making sure that you create an environment of safety, collaboration, and engagement for your clinicians. I often tell practice owners that I coach that my number one goal is to make sure my staff is happy. When my staff is happy, fulfilled, and feeling important in their role, their clients receive better care. As I have whittled down on my counseling hours, I have increased my time engaging in deeper level conversations with the clinicians in my office, fostering collaboration and growth.
Take some time to think about how you lead, areas of growth opportunity, areas where you already thrive. As a skill that is always growing, be kind to yourself, your doubts, and nurture the leader in you.
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here: LEARN MORE HERE