Cohen &

Over the course of one year, Westwood International helped a discordant dental practice create a more cohesive, respectful, and collaborative working environment.

The Challenge

Cohen & Gottlieb is a successful private dental practice with 11 full-time employees. But despite a sterling reputation, healthy revenues, and a positive patient environment, the practice had its share of internal people problems.

“Distinct personalities and strong opinions on how things should be done were creating conflict in our office. Ineffective communication strategies along with a general lack of trust were causing a great deal of stress on a daily basis. We were stuck in recurring patterns.”

After 30 years in the dental field, Dr. Michael Cohen had never felt the need to hire an outside consultant.

"This time was different. The conflict was somewhat insidious and hard to put a finger on. It was easy to see there was friction between the ‘front and back,’ but it was also clear that there were problems between clinical staff members as well."

Cohen & Gottlieb knew that their office could be more positive, productive, and harmonious – but creating synergy was going to be a challenge. They needed ongoing, personalized guidance to make it happen.


The Solution

We designed a custom 12-month program to foster staff harmony and improve teamwork and communication at the practice. The program blended the latest research on team building, emotional intelligence, and personal development.

Over the course of one year, Westwood facilitated seven team development sessions at the practice. These two-day sessions consisted of staff interviews, team-building experiences, and planning meetings with Dr. Cohen and Dr. Gottlieb. The staff interviews were conducted regularly throughout the year designed to identify problems the employees faced on a regular basis.

Half-day team building sessions guided the group through a variety of exercises and carefully-selected assessments.  Team dimension profiles and a listening assessment revealed each person’s strengths and preferred communication style.

Over time, staff members learned to understand each other’s distinct personality types and communication patterns so that they could work harmoniously despite their differences. The group shared stories and contemplated important questions together: What does a successful team look like? What does that look and feel like?


The group defined respect as the key attribute of successful teams, and identified that it was missing from their practice. Together, they discussed what respect looked like and how they could incorporate more of it in their working relationships.

Before the end of each session, we met with Drs. Cohen and Gottlieb to plan the next session and consult on their progress.

Image by Sam Moqadam

The Outcome

In what Dr. Cohen refers to ”a year of enlightenment,” the staff at Cohen & Gottlieb evolved into a more harmonious, positive team.

To this day, Westwood International maintains a positive relationship with Dr. Cohen and his practice. In fact, because of Dr. Cohen we now conduct leadership workshops for the Seattle Study Club, which he founded. The Seattle Study Club is a consortium of dentists interested in learning from one another and deepening their expertise.

We also regularly conduct these types of leadership workshops for study clubs, dental offices, medical practices, and entrepreneurial teams.

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