Mind games Featured

7:00pm EDT February 23, 2009

Dr. Joseph J. Capista says there are definite qualities that separate a leader and a manager, and the two positions can’t be confused.

“You have to understand the manager is not the leader, and there can only really be one leader in the company,” says the president, founder and owner of Williamsburg Dental, which employs about 50 people.

Capista says that one main difference is that as the leader, you have to have a vision for the business and you have to display the qualities of a leader to get employees to follow that vision.

Smart Business spoke with Capista about how to communicate a vision and how controlling your thoughts is important to getting buy-in for your vision.

Q. What are the keys to communicating a vision?

That’s where the manager comes in to play and the partners to a degree.

So many times my manager will come in to me and say, ‘We are going to have to say this because of that.’ I say, ‘Well, is that the truth? We’re going to say the truth. This is what we have to do and bear the consequence of it.’

She knows that there is integrity and honesty in what we do. Because of that, she knows where we want to take the practice, and she has the pulse on delivering.

If you said to me, ‘(Does) everyone in the practice have the same vision?’ I don’t think they do. I’m not sure that they could because of the various levels of requirements for the different jobs.

So, the person that is sterilizing instruments still has to have the vision that we are here for quality, we are here for people, we are here to serve.

So, they may have a more basic vision than the vision that the partners may have or I may have or the manager may have. But, on an ongoing basis, we have meetings by us as owners and by the manager to convey what we’re trying to do here.

Our vision of where we want to end up has to be conveyed from the top to the bottom through the way we behave, the way we talk, the way our managers convey the things we are talking about.

Q. How can a leader get buy-in for a vision?

Control of you is the biggest asset. Your thoughts and your feelings and your actions are what really people see. And they can’t see the thought, but they can see the actions, they can see your feelings. If you don’t have the control of your thinking, where you can be in a situation where it can be a semicatastrophe, and you don’t have the ability to not display the emotion or the feeling that is coupled with that, that’s critical.

When I walk in to that office in the morning, I set the tone, and I could set the tone good or bad. If I wake up and my thoughts are in the wrong direction and I go and set the wrong tone, it’s transmitted through all of us. That’s what the leader does. The leader sets the tone.

The other thing I think is critical is that too many times, especially in today’s world, you talk about teams, and your teams have to run the office. So many times I’ve heard this — let your teams take control of things. I think that is good, but the team is not the leader. The team has to look to the leader, and the leader has to set the tone, and if you’re not controlling your thinking, you’re going to set the wrong tone. And it may takes months before it goes the wrong direction, but you have to have control. There can only be the one leader, and the team has to follow the leader.

Q. What’s the key to controlling your thoughts so you can get that buy-in?

People will say to me, ‘How do you control your thoughts? Thoughts just kind of happen.’ Well, they don’t just kind of happen. My thoughts are controlled by my goals, which are written down in a long version and a short version

My goals incorporate part of my vision. I read my goals at least three or four times a day. I repeat them to myself. When I wake up in the morning, at lunch, in quiet time and before I go to bed, those goals are repeated. Those goals are what are incorporated into my vision, not just for my business world but for my personal life and for my relationship and for my physical world.

So, I am constantly taking my mind where it should be, as opposed to my mind taking me where it wants to take me because if you don’t take control of your thoughts, your thoughts will take control of you.

HOW TO REACH: Williamsburg Dental, (610) 353-2700 or www.williamsburg-dental.com