President's Message: Got Leadership Skills?

President's Message: Got Leadership Skills?

R. Bruce Templeton, D.D.S.*:

I was reading a recent episode of the comic strip “Stone Soup” by Jan Eliot in the newspaper, and the message caught my attention. The premise was that the New Year was a clean slate, a time to get a new start on things in our lives, but it can also be a daunting time full of possibilities. The characters in the comic talked of the fresh start, and the thought of all the possibilities for a clean slate was intimidating. It was concluded that the best way to not be intimidated by the “huge, clean slate” was to “mess it up in a hurry” so the pressure would be off. Well it’s that age-old “New Year’s resolution” time all over again, and I would like to give you some thoughts for a new resolution.

This might be your year to be resolved and get involved as a leader in organized dentistry. You may never have thought of this before, and perhaps just the thought of it might be intimidating at first. That should not stop you from giving it a try. Think back to that first big procedure you performed in clinic. Now you don’t even think twice about a procedure that was once so intimidating. With the specter of health care reform, access, government regulations, third-party payer relationships, and more, there is no shortage of “issues” to rally around with many avenues of service. With our strong committee structure and support staff, I invite you to come on over and help lead Minnesota dentistry into the next decade!

As with any organization, those in leadership positions are looked to for guidance and solutions. Often, the same individuals remain in place as they are re-tapped for service when no new members come forward for the many leadership opportunities. Your new and innovative ideas may be exactly what are needed to make a difference for our state! Fresh perspectives, energy, and enthusiasm are contagious!

Now, this does not mean that service is easy or always convenient, but it certainly is rewarding. The mentors who are in place are second to none, and are ready and willing to help. Who will lead when they move on? It takes time to develop leaders, and the time to start is now. Rather than the use of the time-consuming communication methods of the past, modern social networking tools make it such that we can quickly stay informed and in touch anywhere and at any time. We must take advantage of our electronic tools and really make a difference!

I encourage you to talk with leaders in your district and let them know you want to become involved in leadership. You will be surprised how excited they will be to have you on board!

*Dr. Templeton is the 2009-2010 president of the Minnesota Dental Association. He is an oral surgeon at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Email is