Characteristics of Great Leaders

Learn about the qualities of great business leaders.
No matter your role in life, it's important to be able to lead successfully.

At Heartland Dental, we encourage every team member to become a leader. Many of our continuing education courses focus solely on the importance of leadership – it’s a fundamental skill to have if you want to be successful. If you can lead others effectively, whether you’re a dentist, business manager, or head of a group project in school, you’ll be able to inspire, motivate and ultimately increase the efficiency of others and yourself. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet great leaders from all different types of industries during my lifetime. They all share similar characteristics that I think are important traits to have in order to be a great leader. 

A leader is persistent. Unlike many aspects of your life, you choose whether you are persistent or not. Persistence is determined by the choices you make each day. Do you give up easily or do you stay focused and determined? Do you take short cuts or do you give full effort? Do you become overwhelmed by your work or do you remain composed? Building your ideal character can be accomplished by identifying areas where you lack strength, facing your flaws head-on and creating a plan to prevent repetition of mistakes.

A leader is positive. Your attitude will ultimately determine your level of fulfillment. If you are a dentist, you have learned the skills and knowledge needed to provide effective dental care. But to find overall success in dentistry, you will need more than what is taught in dental school. You will need to develop the right attitude – a “yes” attitude. See patients as opportunities to use your talents, achieve results and make a positive difference in each of their lives. See them as people. Listen to what they want instead of simply telling them what they need. 

A leader is charismatic. People aren’t drawn to those that are selfish, moody, cynical and insecure – and they certainly won’t want to follow their lead. Instead, people need a leader that’s positive, genuine and instills hope in others. A charismatic leader expects the best out of others. To develop charisma, think about the concerns of others over your own.

A leader is a communicator. No matter who we are or what we do, we all communicate with others every day in some manner. If working in a business office, you’re constantly communicating with and relying on co-workers to work as efficiently as possible. The same can be said if you’re a dentist; you are constantly communicating with team members to streamline your schedule, as well as communicating with patients. Being such an important element of leadership, effective communication isn’t optional, it’s essential.

A leader is an initiator. Nothing can be accomplished without initiative, so if you want to successfully lead others, you must drive yourself and others to act. Leaders cannot be indecisive, you need to know exactly what you want to accomplish and create a plan of action to make it happen. To build initiative, seek out areas of opportunity; be willing to take risks when necessary without fearing failure. Start with one area of your life and take action to become a better leader. 

Now ask yourself, “Am I a leader?”



Rick Workman, DMD

Founder, Former CEO and Active Chairman, Heartland Dental

Rick Workman, DMD, graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in 1980. After starting his own practice, he set out to create a world-class dental support organization that would relieve the management burden for dentists by offering them an array of non-clinical administrative support. Today, Heartland Dental is the largest dental support organization in the country. In addition to being the founder of Heartland Dental, he is also the past president of the Association of Dental Support Organizations. To read more about Dr. Rick Workman, click here