Our research on teams has clearly identified that a team leader is the foundation of every wealth management team; great, good, bad or indifferent. It comes as no surprise then that elite teams have great team leaders. But what’s the difference between a good leader and a great one?
Let’s say a team leader gives a surprise and delight directive, instructing each team member to be on the lookout to wow their clients with a personal gift. At first glance, this seems like a terrific initiative to both develop and strengthen the priceless emotional connection with clients.
However, a great team leader takes this a step further. A great team leader highlights the value of surprise and delight through experiential learning.
Personalized gifts are purchased and hand delivered to each team member. Then, in the wow moment, the great team leader explains how this wow feeling is the power of surprise and delight and how the goal is to have everyone on the team uncover similar opportunities to surprise and delight every “A” client. This was a coaching tactic that Bill Francavilla, one of our esteemed coaches, has used over the years.
All of which brings me to the outline below; team leadership of the recent past and today.
The above surprise and delight case is simply one example of “great” now leadership. It embodies leading by example, collaboration, and empowerment—every team member experienced the power of the wow feeling and is now empowered to look for similar opportunities with clients and COIs. It’s now a collaborative discussion at every weekly team meeting.
This leads me to communication. Great leaders inspire through example, empowerment and linking every team member's role to the group’s vision and goals. This type of communication runs the gamut from verbal reinforcement at meetings to recognition of the team’s progress, recognition of individual contributions, privately and publicly (big and small), to understanding and adjusting to the “generational” differences within the team. The ongoing objective is developing and strengthening an emotional connection with every member of the team.
Empathy is a key component in all of this as it builds trust, which leads to a deeper understanding on a personal level. Great team leaders help solve problems, both business and personal, and they help team members succeed, through both coaching and counseling.
Does this guarantee full engagement of all team members? Unfortunately not. Some people are not, and never will be, a good fit. However, accountability for performing up to expectations doesn’t have to be punitive; it’s not simply policing, it’s a partnership— “I’m doing my job, you're doing your job, and how can we help each other pull together in achieving the team’s goals?” This enables great team leaders to easily identify someone who’s not onboard, and career counsel the individual off the team.
Because this type of accountability is built on trust and respect – other team members are usually very aware when there’s a bad fit. They understand the need to make a change.
In a similar vein, great leaders are especially conscious of their office environment. We all know that one bad apple can take a toll on a collaborative, supportive and good energy environment. Today team leaders need to address this critical issue with more flexibility as we're now dealing with remote work schedules, regular offices and a hybrid of the two. We’ve seen some people use the remote model as a working vacation; others want to come into the office while some are reluctant. All of which present challenges for office environment camaraderie. That said, great team leaders roll-up their sleeves and make the necessary adjustments to ensure a collaborative, supportive and good-energy environment. This can include increased personal contact, spirited virtual team meetings, in-office happy hours and so on— they adjust and adapt new methods of teamwork to ensure their office is functioning at its best.
However, it’s very important to understand all of the above—nothing is complete. There is no now leadership model that’s set in stone. Far from it. But there is a formula, a recipe if you will, which like any recipe is open to countless variations. The key is in understanding the basics.
This is my attempt in outlining the basics of the Now Team Leadership from our work with today’s great team leaders. So, if you haven’t already – go out and surprise and delight your team.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com