This critical element is missing from most leadership assessments

Drs. Joel Small and Edwin McDonald ask how you can know if you are being an effective leader unless you ask for feedback. Read this article on listening and authentically wanting to improve for everyone’s benefit.

Drs. Joel Small and Edwin (Mac) McDonald discuss an assessment that highly correlates with leadership effectiveness

There is no question that we practice in a feedback-rich environment. Unlike CEOs of large corporations who often find themselves living in a bubble and isolated from useful feedback because of the enormity of their organizations, as healthcare clinicians, we benefit from the smaller size of our practices.

Feedback is readily available to us. Because we have no hierarchical structure through which feedback is filtered and diluted before it reaches us, we can benefit from this wonderful source of information.

Hogan and Hogan’s study,1 reported in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment, claims that one of the best and most reliable indicators of leadership effectiveness is feedback received from direct reports (i.e., our staff).

Yet we find that too often we turn our backs or disregard this vital and readily available information.

How can we possibly know that we are being effective leaders unless we ask those we lead?

Every executive coach knows to ask clients for feedback, so we can become the best possible coach for that client. The same should be true for leaders; however, we too often make useless and incorrect personal assumptions regarding our leadership effectiveness. Perhaps we feel that asking for this kind of feedback from our staff would be considered a sign of vulnerability in the form of insecurity or uncertainty. Our experience is that the exact opposite is true. By asking those we lead for honest, unfiltered feedback, we are demonstrating that we are listening and authentically desire to improve for the benefit of all.

Not everyone responds to a “cookie cutter” approach to coaching or leadership. Leadership must be nuanced to fit the needs of the followers, and leaders must be able to tweak their style to address the dynamics of an ever-changing and complex practice environment.

This is not to say that leaders must be chameleons and change their identity to meet the needs of others. In fact, our authenticity plays a vital role in our ability to lead. What we are proposing here is that leaders become agile enough to try different authentic approaches to leading others.

Every doctor will greatly benefit from unfiltered feedback; however, some doctors may have difficulty receiving honest and unfiltered feedback if they have not created a psychologically safe culture in which staff members can speak openly without fear of reprisal.

So, how do doctors know if they are leading effectively, or what needs to change if their leadership is lacking?

Line of Sight Coaching, LLC utilizes what we believe to be the best possible leadership assessment available today.

The Leadership Circle Profile 360 is a scientifically based assessment that has been shown to highly correlate with leadership effectiveness. It is highly regarded by corporate executive coaches and has application in the healthcare industry. It has been particularly effective in small organizations such as clinical healthcare practices.

The Leadership Circle 360 Profile assessment not only has the doctor conduct a leadership self-assessment, but also has the staff and other practice stakeholders complete their own assessment of the leader’s capabilities. The resulting data gives doctors a bird’s-eye view of their leadership, as seen through the eyes of those they lead. The results offer both quantitative data and qualitative information derived from the assessment survey and written testimony by the evaluators. Most importantly, the evaluator’s responses are anonymous, so there is no fear of providing honest feedback.

For those truly interested in becoming the best leaders possible for their practice, the information that a Leadership Circle 360 Profile can provide is invaluable.

Coaches will often zero in on those areas that indicate significant differences between the doctor’s self-evaluation and the staff’s anonymous evaluation.

These areas of discrepancy are often caused by blind spots or self-limiting beliefs that are unknown to the doctor, yet they significantly diminish our ability to lead effectively. Once these limiting factors are uncovered, the doctor, in conjunction with the coach, can develop a leadership development plan that addresses these areas and design corrective behaviors that are nuanced to fit the doctor’s specific leadership style.

The benefits of becoming a better leader are significant.

Numerous studies have shown that well-led practices are:

  • More productive and profitable.
  • Developing brands that are a reflection of a strong, engaging culture.
  • Attracting and maintaining the very best staff.
  • Creating strong cultures that endure and serve as a sustainable competitive advantage in the healthcare marketplace.

If you are interested in having a better practice, one that brings you joy, fulfillment, and the lifestyle you desire, consider investing in your development as a leader. Seeing yourself as a leader through the eyes of those you lead is a unique experience, and forms the basis for increased self-awareness and growth.

Dr. Small points out the basic principles for providing feedback that are effective and practice-changing. Keep that positive focus!

Drs. Joel Small and Edwin (Mac) McDonald have a total of over 75 years of dental practice experience. Both doctors are trained and certified Executive Leadership Coaches. They have joined forces to create Line of Sight Coaching, a business dedicated to helping their fellow dentists discover a better and more enjoyable way to create and lead a highly productive clinical dental practice. Through their work, clients experience a better work/life balance, find more joy in their work, and develop a strong practice culture and brand that positively impact their bottom line. Toreceive their free ebook, 7 Surprising Steps to Grow Your Practice Through Leadership, go to



  1. Hogan R, Hogan J. Assessing Leadership: A View from the Dark Side. International Journal of Selection and Assessment. 2001;9(1-2):40-51.

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