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Symposium 2015: Simon T. Bailey Leadership Brilliance in the Midst of Uncertainty


r. Simon T. Bailey has 28 years of business experience and is the former sales director for the Disney Institute. He has used his expertise to teach influencers in over 1000 organizations spanning six continents how to improve themselves and change the world. He helped us kick off the 2015 Seattle Study Club® Symposium with his energetic presentation on leadership brilliance.

Leadership Brilliance Simon has coined the term “leadership brilliance” to refer to leadership that brings out the best in leaders as well as everyone around them. He believes that brilliant leaders succeed in transforming everyone who comes into their world. When we understand how to operate in our brilliance we get to live from the inside out. For the last decade Simon has been teaching and writing about brilliance. He based this concept on some of the research done by Dr. Howard Gardner at Harvard University. Dr. Gardner led a 20-year study that followed the cognitive abilities of children. He discovered that, for their study group, children operated at a genius level until the age of four. Only 10 percent of these same children were still operating at the genius level at the age of 20. By the time they reached their late 20s to early 30s only two percent were still functioning at that level. The key question here is—where did the genius, or brilliance, go? Simon reported that it became buried in a society that tells people what they can’t do. Brilliance is released in an environment where people are celebrated rather than tolerated. When a leader at work invites employees to be the very best they can be people are able to focus on leaving an imprint. To achieve leadership brilliance, Simon suggests focusing on the following three big ideas. Be a Storyteller You have an opportunity to create a connection with each patient every day with the story of your practice. What your patients see on the

outside of your building as they arrive tells them a story. How they are greeted when they walk in and every interaction with each member of your staff tells a story. What we often don’t think about is that each patient becomes your unofficial marketing department as soon as they leave your practice. We need to think about the stories our patients are taking with them. Simon suggested thinking about how Disney might run your dental practice to make it magical. They would start by weaving the story of why you do what you do. People need to feel they are part of something special in order to live in that story each day. They would also keep that story central to the day-to-day life in the practice. Taking 10 minutes each morning to make sure everyone is on the same page can make a huge difference. If you align the head, heart and hands, the feet will follow. Finally, at Disney, leaders take field trips every quarter to other businesses to analyze what they are doing and think about how they might be able to incorporate fresh and different ideas. Look at other practices as well as business outside of dentistry to identify how other peoples’ best practices might be put to good use in your office. There’s always room to improve your story. Stories are what connect people. Are you in business to drive and create profit? Or are you in business to create a meaningful profit? You need to think about what are you going to do to create both purpose and profit. Your brand is not the product or service you offer. When you embrace your story and truly understand why your business exists the atmosphere shifts. You want your patients to “feel the love” from the moment they walk into your practice. You want to hug them with your words. Your brand is an emotional connection that you offer. Emotion leads to memories, which leads to the formation of connections. Memorable moments create momentum. Momentum creates monumental results. Be Sticky Gallup says that 70 percent of human decision-making is emotional and 30 percent rational. Connection is the emotional glue of all relationships. When people are emotion-

ally connected with a brand they spend more, pay a higher margin and tell others about their experience. In today’s busy world, we need to really think about how we can connect more than ever before. As a CEO, ask yourself how you can connect with your staff. Simon pointed out that it’s easy to tell ourselves these connections don’t really matter, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. CEOs create an experience for their staff. The staff then recreates that same experience for the patients. Is your staff passing on a feeling of love? That is what will ultimately drive revenue. To get to the money, you need to show your employees that this is not a job, but an opportunity to make a difference. When was the last time you asked your staff what you can do to be better for them? Connection is the emotional glue of all relationships. So how do we create our stickiness? We have to create connections. Be a Sustainer How do we sustain brilliance long-term? Simon used the animal kingdom to illustrate different business mindsets. Cheetahs are fast and nimble hunters. Most people come into a business as a cheetah—seeking opportunities and jumping on them. Over time, we transform into hippos. Hippos know where all the landmines are and have vast amounts of tacit knowledge. But they lumber along at a slow pace. We need to recognize that every cheetah needs a hippo to slow them down and look out for the traps. Yet, hippos also need cheetahs to push them along the road. Simon quoted the philosopher Eric Hoffer to further illustrate his point—“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” As CEO, you need to constantly ask yourself what you’re doing to take everything to the next level.

attitude and training for success because training will not fix what management doesn’t catch. Brilliant leaders ask— they don’t tell. They don’t just hear— they listen. Brilliant leaders connect— not just communicate. Remembering these traits of brilliance will help your staff engage with your story and pass that passion on to everyone who interacts with your practice to create memorable, magical moments. No matter what you do in your dental practice, as the CEO, you need to think about your story, the story of your staff and the story of your patients. You need to hug them with your words to create connection—the emotional glue of all relationships. Then you need to work to sustain these connections every single day. Yes, we need to make money, but when we figure out how to achieve a purposeful profit in what we do we really see our profits and our spirits soar. Simon T. Bailey is a leadership catalyst and author whose expertise equips emerging leaders and organizations with tips, tools and techniques on how to unleash their potential. He can be reached at or at 407.579.3820. Additional information is also available at

Engagement As CEO, you are the Chief Engagement Officer. You need to be dialed in. When you are dialed in, you set the tone for your office, your practice and your business as a whole. When people step inside you want them to pick up on the spirit of love. Simon suggests hiring for



Leadership Brilliance in the Midst of Uncertainty Keynote Speaker Simon T. Bailey

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