• Mark Topley

"I'm becoming the person people want to work for..."

March 2020 - the first UK lockdown was implemented. Dental practices, along with almost every other business were told to close their doors.

The impact on people in leadership positions - bosses - was stark. Stress levels soared, uncertainty and fear gripped many. Soon many were deflated, lacking self belief, and facing the internal demons - “Am I up to this challenge?”

The personal and business risks were significant. We started to see mental health challenges and retreating to safety, leaving teams isolated at a time when they most needed their bosses to step up.

Just some of the emails I received...

“I am rubbish at “people” stuff and I need to sort this out to improve and grow my business. In the past I’ve shied away from leading the team and I have been left with other peoples vision of a practice.”

“Too often I feel I shy away from difficult interactions and try more to keep the team happy rather than being effective in leading.”

As someone who had faced these sorts of challenges myself in the past, I understood, but also knew a way out. And so I created the Confident Leadership Club in January 2021 - a ten week development programme to help bosses not just survive in challenging times, but to thrive. I’m delighted to say it became a lifeline to more than 50 people.

December 2021 and things are still tough for Bosses. As I have continued to support, talk with and observe bosses through this year, I’ve recognised that the longer term challenges of leading a team and staying sane are not going away any time soon.

Post lockdowns, we are losing staff, not attracting good ones and retreating into tolerating poor attitude and performance, just making do. But abdicating from our responsibilities as a boss just leads to even more internal strife, poor culture and ineffectiveness. It’s no surprise that many of the bosses I speak to are not enjoying work.

But I’ve also not met anyone who, in spite of the current challenges, DIDN’T want to be a great boss. Everyone wants holistic success (rather than just financial). They want to be respected, feel positive, capable, in control. They want a great team who are happy, positive and effective.

So if everyone wants to be a great boss, why are so many people unable to get there?

From my observations and experience over 20+ years in leadership, what I believe people lack in achieving their aim are three things:

  1. Limiting any learning they pursue to one-off courses that made a difference for a while, but failed to take root in the way that they thought, believed and acted in the long term.

  2. Too much content and not knowing where to start. The curse of the information age is that there is SO much content, and most of it good. And so the busy boss who is starved of time and attention faces a challenge in even getting started.

  3. Isolation is an ongoing challenge for owners and managers. We saw the effects of that laid bare in the pandemic as people desperately sought clarity and support. This is why I believe the Business Confidence Forum - a weekly (now fortnightly) webinar for dental leaders - was so important, as well as the client forums I was on, and my own Confident Leader Club. They gave people a place to connect, discuss and receive support.

What’s the Answer?

The new world we live in has significantly greater challenges for bosses than before. And so for anyone who wants to be a great boss and experience the wellbeing, reward and success that come with it, a new approach is needed.


Whatever development you decide to undertake, it will have to be a consistent and continual approach. The time and mental bandwidth required for significant study is going to be hard to find in the coming year, and so small, consistent action over time is what will generate momentum.

Curated Content

You’re busy. So you need content which has been carefully selected to help you with the challenges you’ll face today and tomorrow whilst continuing to build your future. You need a framework that makes sense, and through which you can immediately see what your areas for development are, and what you need to do to get there.


As bosses, we’re often isolated. Our teams may be great, but no-one else can understand and relate to the pressures of running a business. That’s where peer support and input is invaluable. For many of us, simply knowing that we are not alone, and it’s not just us that experiences these challenges can be a life saver.

Introducing the Great Boss Academy

The Great Boss Academy is a continuous development community for people who recognise the importance of being a Great Boss. It is built around the ‘Great Boss 100’ - a free scorecard with one hundred qualities of a great boss and a great business. Each of the six categories is an essential element of being a Great Boss and running a great business. The qualities are drawn from a wide range of research studies, authors and leaders in the field. Mastering each category takes you closer to being the Great Boss that you want to be.

“I have completed a leadership course with Mark which has revolutionised my approach to my team. Amazing course and would highly recommend it.”
Steph Durham - Principal Dentist - Durham Family Dental

The Great Boss Academy is designed to help you increase your Great Boss 100 score. It consists of:

  • A monthly, 1 hour online interactive training and discussion session (with replay) based on three qualities of the Great Boss 100 (GB100).

  • A 4 day period following the session during which you decide on what GB100 quality you will focus on developing next. You can choose between one and three qualities depending on your current workload. You complete a 1 minute template which will help you identify the SMALL IMPACT ACTIONS you will take to improve each quality.

  • A 22 day development period in which you practice and log your progress.

  • A simple 5 minute reflection exercise at the end of your development period.

  • This process works for a number of reasons:

  • It’s broken down into ‘bite size’ content that you can manage

  • 22 days of implementation - the time it takes to form a new habit

  • Progress not perfection - the aim is to make steady improvements over time, not try to achieve impossible perfection in a month.

  • Support - knowing you’re not alone and forging connections with other members is a fantastic way of getting the support you need.

I believe that you want to feel less stressed and out of control as a boss. You’re tired of putting up with and tolerating poor attitudes and performance and having to coax and motivate your team the whole time.

“A must for any practice owner or manager. I just wish there was something like this available when I bought my dental practice 5 years ago!”
Ash Patel - Principal

I want you to achieve the fulfilment, calm sense of control and success that come from being a Great Boss. I want you to be a continuous learner with a growth mindset. I believe the Great Boss Academy will help you get there.

The pathway to becoming a Great Boss is simple:

  • Take the GB100 and assess how you are doing right now. The scorecard will provide you with tailored advice on where you are strong, and where you need development.

  • Decide on whether you need the GB Bootcamp - an online, self learning course with 20 hours VCPD which will establish firm foundations for the leadership of your business.

  • Join the GB Academy - an online learning community that meets monthly to study an aspect of being a great boss, followed by a 3 week development period to embed your learning and make progress as a Great Boss.

It takes 5-10 minutes to complete the free scorecard, but it could be a game changer for you, your team, and your business. The results are confidential and available instantly.

Stop feeling like you aren’t cut out to be a Great Boss. Because you can learn to be one...

“I have just had my CQC inspection and was delighted to read that the inspectors commented on how there was strong leadership in my practice and how this fed through to the staff. This is largely down to having worked with Mark for the past year. If you want to learn about leadership, vision and mission along with motivation and generally improving the workplace environment then I wholeheartedly recommend Mark. You will benefit, your staff will benefit but most of all your patients will benefit from the improved clarity and purpose of your business.”
Susan Watt - Principal

Start building the qualities that will help you to fulfil your potential.

More info at great-boss.com.

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