3 Areas of FOCUS When Creating a VISION Statement


Just as the water clarifier I purchased for my children’s fishbowl claimed to support the development of beneficial bacteria for healthy, clear water, a practice or any business can be better developed when it starts with a Vision, and a Vision Statement.  Cloudy water is unhealthy for goldfish, and a cloudy vision will merely discourage a team.

A Vision Statement is a mental picture of what the practice or business wants to aspire to.  It needs to be clear and concise in its wording.

A vision statement is created by asking questions:

  • What do we do well?
  • What is the most important thing we want to do?
  • What makes our practice or business unique or special? 

Let me walk you through creating a vision statement related to my professional speaking career.  I will ask myself these questions, and then create a vision statement before your very eyes!

What do I do well? 
I communicate, coach, and teach in a professional and competent manner.

What is the most important thing I want to do?
I want to teach skills of leadership and communication to healthcare professionals.  I want each member of a healthcare team to find their voice so that they can be understood and of value to both practice and patient.

What makes me unique or special?
30+ years in the healthcare industry as an employee has provided me with experience and knowledge in effective, and not-so-effective team communication.  I understand the dynamics of healthcare leadership, and what a practice needs to be successful.

With a wave of my magic wand!

My Vision Statement:
As a competent, experienced speaker and healthcare professional, I strive to develop greater commmuncation and leadership skills in each member of the medical or dental practice team, so that the entire team performs more effectively to serve both the practice and their patients.

If you need help with your Vision Statement, provide the answers to the three questions above, and I’ll help you contruct your very own Vision Statement!

Would you like the title of “winningest coach”?

Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy”.  These words spoken by Joe Paterno, former head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years, lost his game yesterday to lung cancer.  However, to those who knew him or have been influenced by him over the last 46 years, know that he was an excellent coach, and a man of great worth.


Coach Paterno, nicknamed “JoePa”, held the record for the most victories by an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision coach with 409 victories.  He once said, Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.”  He inspired so many young men to believe the truth of this statement.


JoePa placed tremendous value on ethics and moral conduct from his team, and his philosophy was that excellence in both academics and athletics could be, and must be obtained.  “When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality”.


How can your team do what Joe Paterno knew was possible?  Do you recognize the value of each team member?  Do you take advantage of the strengths of individual team members, and use those strengths for the benefit of the team?

Excellence in coaching is the key to excellence in team performance.  What changes will YOU make to achieve the title of “winningest coach”, as Joe Paterno did?


How do the principles of effective leadership apply to teams? 

In a dental or medical practice, there are no soloists.  Staff must work as a team to create a harmonious, successful practice.  Who has the responsibility of leadership in the healthcare setting?

  • Dentists and Doctors
  • Hygienists and Nurses
  • Office managers and admin personnel
  • Dental and Medical Assistants

Team leaders can be most effective when he/she:

  1. Provides clear direction
  2. Fosters collaboration
  3. Motivates achievement


Providing clear direction

Before I could safely put my childrens new goldfish into the bowl, I had to provide healthy, clear water for them.  I had to purchase a product to perform that task, a water clarifier.  The one I purchased claimed to do the following:

  • Support the development of beneficial bacteria for healthy and clear water
  • Help reduce aquarium pollution in the water
  • Neutralize chlorine and heavy metals present in tap water that can harm fish
  • Provide a slime coating to help wounds heal and protect fish from abrasions
  • Condition the water

Phew!  That was a lot to know and do, but without that necessary step, the fish would not have survived very long.

It’s no less important to provide clear direction for your team members in the way of…

  • A Vision Statement
  • A Mission Statement
  • A list of Values to be strictly adhered to
  • Goals for success
  • A Strategic plan

by Bent Ericksen & Associates

Will be yours for free via email when you post a comment telling me and my readers how you’ve mastered, or worked for someone that has mastered, one of the five areas for providing clear direction above.

Let me hear from you!

Rory Vaden is the first ever to do this…..

Rory Vaden, co-founder of Southwestern Consulting, encourages us to “Take the Stairs”.   His message is that “Success Means Doing Things You Don’t Want To Do.” 

I saw Rory speak live 1 1/2 years ago in Palm Desert, California.  I was in training to be the Lt Governor of Marketing for District 2 Toastmasters International.  Rory Vaden was at the training too, but he was one of the trainers!  And what a trainer he was!  I have never forgotten his message, and whenever possible, I take the stairs because that’s what real leaders do!

If that’s not enough, Rory has done something that no one else has ever done.  Rory Vaden is the first to ever climb the stairs of the tallest building in China.  Rory is a leader that practices what he preaches.  Please click this link to watch a video of Rory accomplishing this feat:


I encourage you to follow Rory; and follow his advice.  Do the things that you don’t want to do and you will find success as a leader. 

Will you take the stairs when a choice presents itself?  Well…will you?

Tribute to an effective leader….

Today has been set aside to honor one of the most effective leaders in history.  Martin Luther King, Jr was a man of high character who led as well as he served. 

Since I never knew him, I can only judge him on his deeds and his words.  Below is a list of quotes about leadership by the late Martin Luther King, Jr. 

  1. A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus

  2. A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan
  3. A labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence
  4. All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem

  5. Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness

  6. Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase

  7. I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good

  8. If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control

  9. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

  10. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

  11. Means we use must be a pure as the ends we seek

Which quote is your favorite?  Which quote has the most meaning for you?  Which quote encourages you to change the way you lead?

Have a wonderful day leading and navigating your fishbowl!

When you invest in the leadership of girls…

My praise to Oprah Winfrey for exhibiting all the characteristics of effective leadership! 
The headline says it all:  Talk show host Oprah Winfrey proudly saw the first class of girls from disadvantaged backgrounds graduate on Saturday from her $40 million school in South Africa.

The school that Oprah developed and financed admits girls who show leadership qualities, have strong grades and come from poor families. Its facilities include a middle and upper school, state of the art laboratories, classrooms, a yoga studio and beauty salon.

“There are a lot of people, liberals, who lower their expectations and think that if you come from a disadvantaged background … you have a disadvantaged brain. I know that is not true,” Oprah said.

Oprah was also quoted with one of the MOST powerful statements spoken recently.  “This class will prove that when you invest in the leadership of girls, you invest in a nation.”

I have not believed in, nor supported all of Oprahs ventures, but today I salute her choice, and feel gratitude for the amazing leadership she has shown to ensure the betterment of many nations by educating young women!

For the full Reuters article, please see http://tiny.cc/1x3s3

Ambition taken to an extreme level = Desperation

Since our discussion started about effective leadership, I have presented ideas to you about what that means.  My last post switched gears to define ineffective leadership.  I gave an example of when the strength of resiliency turns to dead weight.

Ambition is also a character strength, and a characteristic of effective leadership.  However, ambition becomes a weakness when fear and greed take over. 

Take Doctor Smith for example, a dentist in private practice.  His practice has been successful the last few years, and has been providing a comfortable income.  His patients have high dental IQ’s, and he has a trusting relationship with most of them. 

Doctor Smith rewards himself with a new boat.  That same summer he has some unexpected expenses, and then work in the practice slows a little.  In a panic, Doctor Smith becomes focused on money instead of quality patient care.

Not wanting to lose any revenue, desperation squeezes out ambition. Doctor Smith becomes pushy in trying to convince patients to start treatment right away.  He begins to bargain with patients for the price of procedures.  He starts giving enormous discounts for his services, thinking that at least some income was better than nothing. 

The quality of Doctor Smiths work soon decreases.   He starts using less expensive materials and less qualified labs.  He has to spend more and more time redoing work and fixing errors. 

Within just a few months, Doctor Smith’s patient population begins to change.  Soon, the only new patients coming through the door are those interested in paying the least amount possible.  No longer does Doctor Smith attract patients that care about quality dentistry.

In time, Doctor Smith can’t afford to pay his staff, and he loses those team members who had the highest qualifications, and who provided the best in patient care. 

Ambition has turned from strength to weakness for Doctor Smith, and it changes everything!

Ambition (strength) taken to an extreme level = Desperation (weakness)


As the picture above suggests, when leaders lose their focus and take risks with their strengths, they may simply become CAT BAIT!

Effective leadership devolves into ineffective leadership when strength is taken to an extreme…and it becomes a weakness!

Would you care to share some examples you’ve personally seen?

When do strengths become weaknesses?

During the last month, I have presented the characteristics of effective leadership.  These characteristics define an effective leader, however it doesn’t define whether a leader has aspirations for evil or noble outcomes.  Hitler was a very effective leader.  However, I don’t believe Hitler was a great leader.  But let’s table that discussion for now…

The converse principle of effective leadership is also important.  What are the causes of
ineffective leadership?

If the characteristics of effective leadership are indeed:

  • Knowledge
  • Courage
  • Resilience
  • Ambition
  • Foresight

…then ineffective leadership would seem to occur when these strengths are taken to an extreme. 

(In an earlier post I asked you to tell me why our goldfish friend was jumping.  You had some really great reasons.  In the above picture, this fish may be jumping because he’s a creative thinker–he has courage or ambition.  But his strength may prove to be a weakness if that cat catches him.  Those strong characteristics may be his undoing…)

Let me make my point in another way…. Mary has worked for Dr. Jones for 25 years.  Mary exhibits
resiliency— that is a character strength we examined in an earlier post.  Mary is probably a competent, hard-working individual.  She may get along with others, and she’s most likely reliable and intelligent.

However, if Mary no longer brings ideas to the table; if Mary refuses to consider change because of tradition or “that’s the way we’ve always done it”; then her resiliency has actually become dead weight. 

If there is no forward progress, then there is stagnation.  Stagnation is not a strength, but clearly a weakness.

Resiliency(strength)taken to an extreme level = stagnation(weakness)

Strengths taken to an extreme become weaknesses.

Does this principle make sense to you?  

Do you agree with me?  

Do you disagree?

Dust off that crystal ball! It’s time to lead

Effective leaders can foresee problems, and take action to prevent them

I once worked as a tech for an oral surgeon.  Narcotics were administered to most of the patients as a method of general anesthesia.  The danger in using Narcotics, is that they often suppress the brains natural reflex to tell the lungs to breathe.  The most dangerous time during surgery in a clinical setting is when the patient is beginning to drift off to sleep soon after the narcotic is administered.  It is commonplace to have to tell the patient to breathe, since the brain is suppressed.  Patients are not always conscience, but they will usually obey simple verbal directions given to them. 

In this particular office, as a patient was falling asleep, the oral surgeon would say to the patient, “Take a big breath”.  This command was given to every patient, male and female, adult and child.  It was very much a part of the surgical routine when administering general anesthesia.

During a staff meeting one day, Trudy, one of the surgical assistants, suggested that this simple direction to a female patient on the verge of falling asleep may sound different, and possibly even inappropriate when under the influence of drugs. 

“Can you guess what ‘take a big breath’ may sound like to a female patient drifting off to sleep”? Trudy queried.

Once it was brought to the attention of the staff, we understood that the word “breaths” may actually sound inappropriate to someone half asleep.  Thankfully, this office had not had any complaints from female patients, but this assistant showed effective leadership by seeing a possible problem.  It was very simply solved by saying “deep breath” to all the patients from that time forward. 

In this day and age of frivolous lawsuits, this innocent and routine phrase could have been the cause of a very costly misunderstanding.  But because of a leader that had foresight, there was no more worry about patient misinterpretation.

An effective leader will foresee possible problems, and strive to find solutions.

During the last month, I have presented, and you have shared the characteristics of effective leadership.  Effective leaders value knowledge, and are willing to learn from others.  They are courageous, resilient and ambitious.  And effective leaders foresee problems, and create solutions long before they have to.

Do you have any experience with a leader that effectively avoided problems?

Perhaps you could share a story about a time when you or another leader didn’t have the foresight to see a problem coming…

Hey gals–this one’s for you!


Posted in Forbes Magazine today was an interview with Sandra Peterson, CEO of Bayer CropScience.  I think I would really like to hang out with Sandra.  She seems like my kinda gal!

“I believe a great leader has better people working for them [who] can do their jobs better than [the leaders] themselves… I am very comfortable not being the expert and actually putting people who work for me forward. I don’t need to know all the answers and I don’t need to be the one who’s out there up front. It’s not about me. It’s about the organization being successful and promoting those who work for me to give the board presentation or to be the one who talks about the work that’s being done for the company.”

That is true leadership!  She also said….

“I don’t compromise at all on how people lead and manage other people. I don’t want to work in an environment where people are belittled and berated. I don’t believe in management by fear. I also won’t sacrifice the future of a company for a quarter. To me, the biggies are things about how you treat your customers. Do you respect and appreciate your customers and feel good about what you’re doing? But it’s also how you deal with people in your organization and how you deal with your customers and treat them with respect.”

Sandra has three steps for helping women

“I consciously make an effort to get to know some of the women who may be in the middle of the organization – they’re not at senior management levels – and try to figure out whether there’s a new opportunity they can take on that enables them to shine and succeed in a way they may not have in the past. I don’t overly focus on the women, to the detriment of others, but give them some advice and counsel in that regard.

“The second thing I do is to be very clear about any job that becomes open in the organization that we must evaluate a diverse slate of candidates. I have this basic belief that you can talk a lot about diversity, and you can do all sorts of networking and mentoring things, but unless you actually measure progress against it and have metrics being tracked and managed against, you don’t actually see the change in performance in the organization. Simply put, people in business are trained from the beginning that what gets measured is what matters. So I ensure that the male leaders and managers also have this as part of their objective as well… I push very hard to take the extra time to identify the unusual candidate, which may be somebody who may have some inherent skills but is not the obvious candidate for that job.

“And then the third one is I try as much as I can to talk to women as they go through different phases of their career about some of the issues and challenges that they may face and how to think about those. I also make an effort to mentor and support other women and give them advice, to the extent I can be a positive role model for these women.”

Leadership Lessons: Don’t Try to Be the Smartest Person in the Room – Forbes