Dentistry Professionals Day promotes situational leadership

by Erin Wirth, UNMC College of Dentistry | May 15, 2019

Image with caption: Walt Natemeyer, Ph.D.

Walt Natemeyer, Ph.D.

The College of Dentistry hosted its 33rd annual Professionals Day in April at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus Union. The event provided students, staff and faculty with the opportunity to celebrate academic, professional and scholarly accomplishments.

The program featured the Richard E. Bradley Memorial Lecturer Walt Natemeyer, Ph.D., an internationally-recognized management author and consultant, who provided insights on situational leadership and employee motivation. Building on past UNMC-wide conversations about the role of empathy in health care, Dr. Natemeyer's words helped audience members consider the role empathy plays in their leadership abilities.

Dr. Natemeyer's explanation of situational leadership focused on helping leaders understand how much direction and support followers need to succeed. The capacity to place oneself in another's position, to understand what followers are experiencing from their frame of reference, is key to becoming a better leader.

"Leaders must understand how ready followers are to accept responsibility based on their abilities and willingness and confidence to accept responsibility," Dr. Natemeyer said.

Dr. Natemeyer provided information on how to assess individual situations and adapt leadership styles accordingly. He said that an important part of situational leadership is building and maintaining positive relationships with employees, characterized by effective communication, support, encouragement, positive reinforcement and mutual trust.

Janet Guthmiller, D.D.S., Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Dentistry, said, "Dr. Natemeyer provided insights on a leadership style that focuses on truly understanding team members, their abilities and their motivations, in order to assess how much support and direction to provide. Our faculty, staff and students gained valuable knowledge that will help them become better leaders."

The program closed with a celebration of the year's achievements:

  • Faculty members received $2,596,178 in grants and contracts.
  • 116 students received 178 scholarship awards valued at $1.35 million.
  • 45 awards for outstanding achievement were given to graduating seniors.
  • 80 students were recognized for high academic achievement, including being in the top 10% or 15% of their class, being recognized at the honors convocation each year, or graduating with honors.


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