Executive Vice President & COO at Heartland Dental
“A Leadership Model of Encouragement & Guidance”
DeAnn McClain, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Heartland Dental, grew up in the company, starting as an accountant in the support office department and then moving to field operations, learning the inner workings of a dental office. In her years at Heartland Dental, she has also seen the company grow and expand. When DeAnn started at Heartland Dental in 1996, the support office staff had under 20 employees who supported less than 20 offices. Fast forward to today, and DeAnn leads Heartland’s field and clinical operations team which supports more than 1550 offices. DeAnn’s deep knowledge and background allows her to connect the dots from the support office, field, and the dental office itself. Her goal is always to stabilize and guide her team and help them navigate complex situations while remaining calm and analytical. Her experience throughout the years working at Heartland has taught her that trust and strong collaboration are both keys to being a successful leader. “We are a people business so that sort of connection to people and commitment to relationships is key.”
“Heartland Dental is the leading dental support organization in the United States. With 1,550 supported dental offices in 38 states, Heartland Dental is experiencing phenomenal growth nationwide. Our success can be attributed to our focus on culture and a commitment to ongoing advancement.”
As a female leader, DeAnn has been fortunate to have worked alongside Heartland Dental’s founder and executive chairman, Rick Workman, DMD and President and CEO Pat Bauer, who consistently supported her and believed in her strong leadership qualities, expertise, and unique insights. “There have been times where throughout my career I have been the only female in a board room, but even on those occasions, I knew that Dr. Workman and Pat were my constant champions and were going to support my contributions. Heartland has created an environment anchored in its Mission, Vision and Values and at its core is open, welcoming, and fair,” she says.
The pioneering leader’s advice to other female leaders is to start with themselves. “Be open to building yourself as a leader. This means seeking feedback, doing homework, listening to colleagues, identifying the areas you need to focus on, and embracing your strengths.” DeAnn adds, “The more you know about yourself, the better you’ll be able to handle challenges as they come up. You must make sure you are always investing time to build yourself as a leader. This is something I strive to work on every single day.”
DeAnn’s role model is CEO, Pat Bauer. He has always believed in her and – at times – pushed her in situations where she doubted herself, all the while ensuring she was set up for success. “Great lessons have come out of those experiences I didn’t initially embrace. Because of his exemplary leadership, I often find I’m driven to live up to the great example he has set,” she explains. “For such a long time early in my leadership career, I would envision him on my shoulder and say to myself internally, ‘I am going to act before Pat has to ask the question, or – better yet – ask the critical questions before Pat has to even think about them.’ I am an introvert by nature, so it’s been helpful to have that encouragement and push to get out of my comfort zone.”
She believes that female leaders are often expected to have a high EQ, and emphasizes how critical it is to have a healthy balance of EQ and IQ as well as the advantages of being able to leverage both in expertly navigating complex situations. Armed with everything she’s learned and with a focus on developing herself and others, DeAnn and her team have been helping take the company to new heights with the support of leadership.
This focus on leadership and continuous improvement is core to the Heartland philosophy. The company was founded by Dr. Workman, who knew there had to be a better way for dentists to focus clinically while also operating a business. Knowing how to support one dentist well has allowed Heartland Dental leaders to expand this incredible support to more doctors. The company is also laser-focused on enhancing the support they provide doctors, staying informed of trends in the industry, and forward-thinking solutions for supported doctors. DeAnn’s role as the COO is to make sure she is constantly the doctors’ champion and advocate.
As Heartland fulfills their Mission and Vision for its supported doctors – being that advocate remains at the forefront of all situations, innovations, or strategies they take on as a company. “I need to make sure that I am always taking on that role of being a doctor champion. Or making sure I am bringing in the right people and points of view when handling different situations to ensure they have a voice and that they understand the “why” behind our actions/initiatives.” DeAnn adds, “We also have a strong vetting process for new initiatives that always works to balance being leading edge vs. bleeding edge. We don’t want to be aggressive before things have been vetted fully.”
When DeAnn reflects on her career at Heartland Dental, from creating reporting systems in accounting to leading the Operations team through this period of growth, she is motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead. “I am looking forward to working with the Operations team and all of Heartland Dental to bring fresh ideas and new initiatives to life and continue to provide Heartland supported doctors the best support in the industry.” IEWL
Executive Vice President & COO at
Heartland Dental is the leading dental support organization in the United States. With more than 1,550 supported dental offices in 38 states, Heartland Dental is experiencing phenomenal growth nationwide. Our success can be attributed to our focus on culture and a commitment to ongoing advancement.