Insights From Our Editors

Putting Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose Into Action

Members of Dr. Sorrenson’s practice team show off their “Wow” philosophy of delivering an exceptional patient experience and care. Dr. Sorrenson says that giving them autonomy, enabling them to achieve mastery of their job role, and helping them see the greater purpose of their work, has resulted in a powerful team.

Implementing three transformative staff management concepts in your practice.

By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO

Sept. 13, 2023

This article sums up the three key concepts of autonomy, mastery and purpose, as discussed in Daniel Pink’s book “Drive,” and as detailed in three of my previous columns (which you can read HERE, HERE and HERE).

Hopefully reading this wrap-up will motivate you to read my previous columns, in which I explain each concept in more detail, and if you haven’t read “Drive,” I recommend doing that too. HERE’s a great whiteboard animation that introduces you to the three concepts.

Incorporating the three key concepts of autonomy, mastery and purpose isn’t easy, but once absorbed, these concepts can transform your optometric practice into an extraordinary workplace.


Empowering Your Team: In the quest to keep your employees engaged, autonomy plays a pivotal role. Micromanagement can stifle problem-solving and hinder rapid responses to patient needs. By entrusting your team with the autonomy to handle issues promptly, you not only empower them, but also ensure exemplary patient care. Transitioning to greater staff autonomy may be challenging, but allowing this reduces operational inefficiencies and boosts morale. Also, by asking, “What do you think?” and encouraging employees to take ownership and find their own answers, you foster autonomy, which is essential for a thriving practice.


Cultivating Excellence: Fostering mastery is the key to keeping your employees motivated and engaged. People thrive when they have the opportunity to improve and grow in their roles. Providing comprehensive training, on-the-job learning and support for external education helps staff members continually develop and fine-tune their skills. Encouraging certifications, such as those from the AOA or ABO, demonstrates your commitment to their growth. Recognizing the value of these certifications and celebrating achievements reinforces their sense of mastery, which in turn leads to higher job satisfaction and loyalty.


Connecting Your Team to a Greater Cause: Instilling a sense of purpose in your optometric practice is not only important and fulfilling, but essential. Reminding your staff that they contribute to helping patients see better, look better, and feel better is crucial. Integrate your mission, vision and values into your meetings to keep your staff’s purpose at the forefront. Share heartwarming patient stories and positive reviews to demonstrate the impact their work is having. Play videos like “Know Your Why” by Michael Jr. to spark meaningful discussions about the practice’s greater purpose. Regularly communicate how each team member’s efforts align with the practice’s goals. By connecting their roles to a broader mission, employees experience greater fulfillment, motivation and engagement.


By embracing autonomy, fostering mastery, and instilling a sense of purpose, your optometric practice can become a workplace of engaged employees delivering exceptional patient care. Incorporating these principles will enhance job satisfaction, increase productivity, lower turnover rates and increase dedication and loyalty to the practice. Transforming your workplace into an environment where autonomy, mastery and purpose thrive is a journey where the rewards are well worth the effort.

Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, is president of Lakeline Vision Source in Cedar Park, Texas, and the Professional Editor of Review of Optometric Business (ROB). To contact her:


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