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Episode 164: Mentoring Like a Leader

“In mentorship and in leadership, you have to be someone who walks the talk.” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

I’ve talked about mentorship on this podcast before, but today I want to talk about how you can take the next step on your leadership journey. I have come to realize that to be a truly legendary leader, you have to be a good mentor to those around you.

In my experience, a mentor is someone you look up to and you can trust. Someone you can talk to and learn from. Mentors are people who really listen to you, and you want to be like them. And they can be some of the most impactful people on your life.

Early in my career, I wanted to do everything myself. It was really a control thing. But when I learned that being a good leader means being a good mentor – that is sharing with others and helping others become the person they want to be – well that helped me stop focusing so much on me and my control, and start focusing on others. And I have to tell you, that was one of the best things I ever learned about leadership.

But probably the biggest piece of advice I can give you about mentorship is to be a life-long learner. Go to the courses and learn all you can from the people teaching them. As you attend courses, you will find people who can help mentor you in their fields of expertise. These people are incredibly talented clinicians and they have so many things they can teach about leadership.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the people I’ve looked up to as mentors and share some advice on:

  • Where I looked for mentors
  • How mentors opened my mind to different ways of thinking
  • How mentoring can take your leadership journey to the next level

Extra Details:


Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with the Productive Dentist Podcast and I’m going to talk today, and I’ve talked about this before, but I’m going to talk about mentorship and not so much, not so much from the perspective of me mentoring others, but some of the people who have been mentors to me and that’s a big deal. In the last episode, I was talking about Colonel Cryer, Paul Cryer, who is my boss, when I was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio back in the early 80s and he became quite a mentor and a personal friend and it’s okay to become a personal friend, but Paul Cryer was one of those guys because he walked the talk. And in mentorship and leadership, you’ve got to be somebody who walks the talk and he did and he was one of those guys. Other early mentors I’ve talked about ,my dad, he was a mentor. I’ve talked about, I’ve talked about many people, my coach in high school basketball, very great guy, his motivation, he was a, he was not a motivational speaker put it to you that way.

What he would say is he would always say, “You guys,” I mean, years, he would, I don’t know, he would always put the negative swing on everything, you know, “You guys are just you know, you didn’t practice. This is where you’re at now because of it,” and others, it was almost a blaming mentorship. We all loved him because we wanted to win and we were working great as a team and he was a good, he was a good mentor, he would work with us individually. I think back to those types of experiences, baseball, you know, having, having great leadership figures, and what I would call a leadership figure is being, you know, a mentor. Other mentors that I’ve had in my career, besides, you know, Paul Cryer, I went into private practice and it became something that was you know, I’d gotten the opportunity in the military to work with some of the best dentists, you know, prosthodontist oral surgeons, you know, across the board and anonymous, and I got to kind of pick their brain and learn from them. So they were all mentors to me and I made that an important part of my education I challenge you to do the same. When you go to Courses, learn everything you can from these people that are teaching, you may not want to do it that way.

I think about going to Pat Allen’s course and talking about it and loving doing the first-day doing connective tissue grafting and all of that stuff. So he was a mentor in that arena of education for me. Now personally, I can’t stand using six oh, sutures and spending two hours doing a particular procedure, that’s just not in my DNA. So, but Jeff Boesky, my partner, he loves that, but I still look at Dr. Allen is as a mentor, but I go back to people like Carl Mish, to and Carl and I, over the years became, became very good friends and Paul, was a Paul, Carl, I was going to talk about Paul Homily, as teaching me communication skills, but anyway, go to Carl. Carl Mish was one of my, one of my mentors. My first sinus graft I did back in probably 87, Carl was actually my dental assistant during, during the case and he told me to hold the osteotome still, as we were tapping on the sinus membrane, and I said, I’m trying, you know, I’m shaking, we’re fixing them to tap a hole in this guy’s head. So, but Carl was so intelligent, photographic memory, everything was backed by literature. Everything was just I love the structure of what the way he taught and so he was a mentor to me.

Now, I’ve taken that, you know that from him and I try to do that with my team and with the people that I work around is, you know, be full of, be full of information, be a source of information for your team, but you don’t have to be the only source of information. I go to Pete Dawson. Pete was a great mentor. He wrote the foreword in my book on implants back in 91 and, Justin, these guys are incredibly talented clinicians, but they also figured out ways to be good leaders now. You know, you look at people personally, there are some people who I’d look up to as a mentor in their personal relationships. One of them, you know, I have to say is, you know, one of my sons-in-law, I look at how he treats my daughter, and it gives me actually, I’m not going to say, one of my sons-in-law, several of my sons-in-law and how they treat my daughters and I just mean, I look at that and a mentor doesn’t have to be older than you. They don’t have to be a seasoned pro at being a mentor or being a leader, but I look at how they respond, how they take care of family, how they take care of people and that, to me is massively important and so I consider myself a sponge when it comes to learning about leadership, when it comes to learning about not only mentorship, but becoming a mentor to others. These are all things that really play a massive role, in my opinion into my own personal growth. And it’s, it’s, you know, when I when I think of Carl Mitch, when I think of Pete Dawson, when I think of Paul Cryer, Colonel Cryer, when I think of people who are not so into themselves, that they can also share with you information, maybe clinically, maybe personally.

Bob Holloway was my pastor and the early 80s, and mid-80s and he’s the one that got me to start reading books about, I don’t know, about compassion and love and things that I was struggling with. I was looking for joy, but not getting joy and so you have to be a student of these things, and he helped me through counseling with him, and him opening up my eyes to different ways of thinking and I look at him as a major mentor in my life. I would not be where I am today, without the people I’m talking about and, you know, when, when everything seems like it’s going south, when it’s not going the right direction, when you can have somebody that you trust, that can give you guidance, to me, that’s a mentor, that’s a leader, because we all get in those situations, we are all around them at different times, but having those folks that we can talk to, and mentoring with friendships. You know, we have a group that we haven’t been doing it since COVID, but five or six, six of us friends for years, we’ll get together and go have have breakfast and talk about things and share, share where we’re at in our life and trying to learn from their experiences, them learning from my experiences and just sharing information with close friends. I think that’s, that’s also another huge part of this, but in order to be a legendary leader, you have to be a legendary mentor to those that are around you and I don’t know if I’ve ever put those two things directly together like that, but it really is true and think about this. If someone’s your mentor, what does that mean? Well, it means you actually listen to them. You know, there are a lot of people that were supposedly my mentor, but I didn’t really, I didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t really you know, they were telling me what to do, but they weren’t that person that I wanted to be like, you know, I may have blindly accepted them eventually, you know, had influence from them, but as my emotional intelligence got better as I got to understand people better, some of those people fell to the wayside. Some of those mentors fell away fell to the wayside.

So me personally, I love helping somebody whether they be Summer you know, my on my team and Gay, You know, they have challenges personal challenges in their life and if there’s anything I can do to help them or Shannon or any of those, yeah, I’m there for them. It’s it’s having a difference between people being afraid to come tell you things and people feeling welcome to come tell you things that are going on in their life, in your own business in it, you know, across the world, everything that’s going on, so I just want to be a source in a place where they can come and share their stuff. It’s kind of I always joke about Summer. Summer has the ability to be able to tell me, did I take my meds today? You know why? Because early on in my career, I would say, “What are you talking about, you know, go do your job. You know, let’s, let’s forget about this, and let’s go do whatever we were supposed to do, you know, we’re in the battle.” So, you know, think about those things.

You want to be a good leader, be a great mentor, be a good friend, help them get to where they want to be at the old adage, if you help enough people get where they want to be, you’ll end up where you want to be and I, you know, early on, I wanted to do everything myself, I wanted to be the source of all information because I could control that, you know. I thought I could, but when I learned that being a mentor is sharing things with people, maybe we call it training, maybe we call it training opportunities, but it’s it’s helping people become the person that you know, they can become, that they may not know and that, that gets down to, you know, hiring the perfect team, how do we hire that perfect team? I’m going to talk about that in the next podcast, but how do we do that? Who are we looking for? What are the, what are the traits of that person? What I know is, the more I put my guard down and allowed people to share information with me, that it allowed me to be able to start sharing information with them and it’s, it’s not the, it’s not the ivory tower type of job, you know, where you’re the dentist, and I’ve seen so many dentists with such high egos, it just drives me nuts.

You know, it’s like, I’m a dentist, this is what we’re supposed to do and they talk to their team and I’ve been one of them, they talk to their team, like their indentured servants, or there’s somebody who, you know, had hired you to do this job and this is the way it’s gonna be, but I’ve seen it over and over and over again. Step back and if you want to be an uncommon, an uncommon leader, a legendary leader, you have to do things uncommon, you have to do things that are outside of the box and what I love now is I’m seeing some young Doc’s that have been through Productive Dentist Academy over the years. These guys are unbelievable leaders and they’re four years in, you know, they’re five years, six years into their practices and, and I look at it and I go, wow, I wish I would have had that kind of leadership skills when I, when I first, when I first started out, and, you know, I’m not gonna whine and cry about it. I didn’t have them, but it doesn’t mean I can’t have them. It doesn’t mean I can’t become a great leader. Yes, some people it comes really easy. I think once I learned some of the rules, it came really easy, but it was really hard to start with. So anyway, challenge yourself to become that leader, that legendary leader and that legendary mentor and I think those words can almost be interchanged to become that legendary mentor and that legendary leader to your team.

I love the fact that I have mentors that are clinical mentors. Paul Homily, teaching me communication skills back in the 80s, these are all things that I took and have continued to work on and continue to help. So I’m very, very thankful for all my mentors, and I haven’t even mentioned half of them, not even a third of them. So, but over the years, I’m going to continue to share those people who have been a big influence on me and my dad, my mom, both big influences, But in the world of business, I had to learn. I had to learn a lot and I think all of us do. So, anyway, I hope you enjoyed the podcast. I will be back and tell your friends about it and we will talk to you soon.

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