Savvy Dentist Podcast Craig Johns Atomic Pressure

Savvy Dentist Podcast – Business Lessons from Sporting Legends with Craig Johns

Atomic pressure, the gap between excellent and elite, why Michael Phelps and the All Blacks sustain enduring success, CEO Periodization, planning a career sabbatical, and what it takes to follow your own race in sport, business and in life.

I must say, this podcast is right up there as one of my favorite interviews. Enjoy also getting an insight into how I approach sport as an elite athlete and coach. Thanks Jesse.

Learn the steps you need to take to become an elite performer in your field. Craig Johns, a high performance leadership expert, coach and speaker shares his expertise on this subject today. Craig has been involved in the sporting industry for many years and is able to see potential and help people fulfil their potential. Today, Craig unpacks the steps that are relevant and applicable for you in your dental practice to help you achieve extraordinary results.  

  • [02:16] The story of how Craig came into the sporting industry. 
  • [08:34] Observations around the gap between excellent and elite. 
  • [11:29] Focusing on your own race and goals and improving those instead of other peoples’ races. 
  • [14:15] Explaining the gap between excellent and elite. 
  • [16:30] How to manage performing under pressure. 
  • [19:22] Definition of success and the role it plays in performance. 
  • [21:43] Creating flow of elite performance at a team level. 
  • [25:12] Enduring success rather than fleeting success. 
  • [28:11] The biggest difference between sport and business. 
  • [31:49] Craig’s advice for achieving long term success. 
  • [40:00] Thoughts on how a sabbatical can be achieved for business owners. 

Listen to the Podcast Interview

Rip the band aid off

Rip The Band Aid Off

By Craig Johns

It’s time that you rip the band aid off. When dealing with an issue or a crisis, we see so many people trying to fix the obvious on the surface, rather than digging deeper to see what is the actual root cause.

Symptoms stand out like a sore thumb, like a runny nose when we have the flu. But the real questions, that are hardly ever asked, should be what were the underlying factors that led our immune system to be susceptible to the flu and why weren’t we more proactive in preventing these factors?

NRG Band-aid 13072018

This is no different to the workplace, where issues and crisis’s are all preventable with effective strategies, planning and systems to monitor our projects, people, competitors and performance.

In saying that, it is impossible to prevent every issue and crisis, therefore we need to have really good systems to ensure that we fix the problem right the first time.

When dealing with an issue, people find it much easier to apply a band-aid and give a little bit of tender loving care, rather than spending some extra time to understand why it actually happened, ask the tough questions and identify whether it can be prevented in the future.

Why are humans prone to the ‘path of least resistance’?

Why are we so susceptible to the easy way out or way of doing things?

I find it really frustrated when I hear ‘let’s put that decision or project on hold until we have more time, more money, the perfect design or most frustratingly, a new hire arrives’.

Hesitation is the difference between winning and losing in most sports, and it is exactly the same in business. If you wait, someone else will get to the market first and therefore be in the prime position to control the market, or more importantly you risk becoming irrelevant.

Solutions can sometimes be the most simple and obvious that are right there in front of us, whereas other times there is no clarity or even a potential path to get us started.

As leaders we need to be able to step back and take a birds eye perspective, then firstly, allow our teams the space to see the obvious (if the root cause and solution are right there in front of us) and secondly, dig deeper until they can get to the bottom of their nagging pain in the butt.

People have a habit of dancing around the tough questions, as though they are afraid to offend someone or unravel a large mistake they or the team may have caused.

How can you create an environment where your team is encouraged to ask the right questions?

It is commonplace for issues to be lingering in the workplace, partnership and with our products or services.

Why is it so hard to put your pride, integrity, record and relationships on the line and front the big elephant in the room?

Nine times out of ten it comes down to ‘trust’. One hundred present of time, the level of trust is a direct result of the environment established by the leader.

Trust, that our team feel they are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, and that people can ask the right questions when they don’t understand, believe there might be a better way or there are some barriers preventing a greater performance.

Let’s ‘rip the band-aid off’ and create an environment of learning, growth and most importantly trust in our teams


It’s All About Trust Link
Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong? Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link


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Trust Craig Johns It Is All About Trust

It Is All About Trust

An article in the New Zealand Herald (Donaldson, 2018) brought up a great discussion between ‘Command and Control’ versus ‘Self-Determination Theory’ in sport. It raised some great questions that relate to both the business world as well as the coach-athlete relationship. Has the traditional ‘hierarchical’ systems, which lead to command and control, become outdated or is there still a place for this type of leadership behaviour?

Let’s take a look at what the central currency to any community or relationship is. Trust is essential to any relationship and is, according to Mayer et al., made up of three key elements: ability; benevolence; integrity.

Ability is built on the skills, competencies and characteristics that enable a person to perform tasks in a specific domain. As a relationship is building those involved will be ascertaining whether the other party can do what they say, have a track record of performance in that particular area and is their any evidence supporting their claim to competency. It is usually situation specific as we cannot be highly skilled in everything we do.

Benevolence is based on the foundation of how much do they actually care about the relationship versus aspects such as money, power or self-fulfilment. Early in the relationship you are trying to understand each others situation, how much do you want to help each other and are the actions being taken beneficial for each other.

Integrity refers to our acceptance of a set of principles and whether they are being adhered to. Are the actions taken from and adhered to against a set of principles? We want to know whether they will guide or motivate our performance, are we accepting of each others performance principles, and do both sets of principles align or can they coexist.

I would also add a fourth dimension to trust, and that is enjoyment. Enjoyment is the number one retention factor for any type of community or relationship. It helps to love what you are doing and have fun why you are doing it. If the environment is enjoyable, then you are more likely to stay connected.

Command and control is based on an aggressive, micro-managing and dictatorial approach, which sometimes maybe referred to as ‘it is my way or the highway’ approach. It is a common approach that leaders fall into when the pressure for success in business or sport is enormous and a win-at-all-costs mentality is allowed to fester. In certain circumstances this mentality may result in bullying behaviours and a ‘culture of fear’, which are not appropriate our society.

We are seeing the command and control hierarchial approach being replaced in the work place and on the sports fields over time, but there are still many instances of this type of behaviour occurring in society. As people’s awareness, rights, confidence in ability to speak up and community acceptance that you should bring issues to the forefront, acts of bullying are being raised and stamped out. However it is still prevalent in politics, sport and the workplace.

Over the past two decades or so, we have started to see leaders evolve their approach as they understand that their are more effective ways to reach higher levels of performance and productivity. The Self-Determination Theory provides a great platform to understand how we can perform at our best and bring out the best in the people we work with.

Self-Determination Theory is built on 3 core elements; autonomy; relatedness; and competence.

Autonomy is feeling you have a choice, that what you’re doing is of your own volition. Relatedness is to care for and be cared about by others, to feel you are contributing to something greater than yourself, to have your values align with the goals of the team or programme. Competence is about skill levels but athletes also need to feel they are learning and growing, not just reaching a set level.” (Donaldson, 2018)

If we are building a high performance environment, we need to allow our people to feel valued, be able to speak, have a sense of purpose and be true to themselves. We need to provide an environment where people feel highly motivated, feel like they belong and are happy, which the components of the Self-Determination Theory provides.

To build a feeling of autonomy in our people and ensure they are highly motivated and engaged, it is important that we reduce and refrain from approaches that involve dictating, incentivizing and applying heigh levels of pressure. We need to trust the abilities of our people and work on alleviating the fear inside our heads that we won’t achieve the desired results.

One of the most powerful skills a leader can possess is listening. To bring out the best in people, they need to have a voice and be involved in a collaborative way. That doesn’t mean as leaders that we can’t make the tough decisions, it eludes to ensuring that the feelings, values and thoughts of our people are taken into consideration to ensure they are closely aligned to the goals.



Donaldson. M. (2018). New Zealand Sport Model ‘Outdated’. New Zealand Herald, 24 June 2018. link

Roger C. Mayer, James H Davis, and F. David Schoorman (1995). An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust. The Academy of Management Review, 20 (3), July 1995, 709-734.