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Unleashing Your Team's Potential

Leadership is more than just telling people what to do; it's about inspiring people with different personalities and backgrounds to work together toward common goals.

In an industry driven by client relationships, a motivated team can significantly improve your service quality, your client loyalty and your bottom line. When team members have high morale, they’re more likely to go the extra mile for their team and their clients. This all starts with leadership.

Many of you began your careers independently, but now find yourself with growing leadership responsibilities. This requires a new set of skills, particularly in an era where the workforce is rapidly changing. Younger generations have different expectations, looking for environments that are productive, supportive and engaging. This shift requires team leaders to adapt their styles in a variety of ways.

The following best practices, if taken to heart, should help strengthen the bond between you and your team:

  1. Make In-Office Days Fun: Welcome the team warmly, play music when appropriate, bring donuts sometimes, add more plants and so on.
  2. Lead by Example: Demonstrate hard work, bring energy and show your passion for helping clients achieve their financial goals.
  3. Put Someone In Charge: Empower a team member to plan activities and recognize birthdays, providing them with a budget for decision-making.
  4. Take Personal Notes: Keep records of your team members’ favorite teams, TV shows, restaurants and family happenings.
  5. Give Small Gifts: Use small, personal gifts to show that you listen and you care. This goes beyond holidays. Find non-traditional opportunities that link to their families and hobbies.
  6. Share Credit and Accept Blame: Acknowledge individual contributions specifically and genuinely. Admit mistakes openly, state what went wrong and show empathy for those impacted.
  7. Become a Team-Building Cheerleader: Encourage activities like volunteering, lunches, sporting events, wine tastings and other ways to spend time together.
  8. Empower Self-Direction: Allow mistakes, praise initiative, avoid micromanagement, support decision-making and trust the team.
  9. Celebrate Successes: Mark milestones and achievements, plan for celebrations and reflect on success factors.
  10. Encourage Learning: Provide access to training resources, support participation in courses and conferences and encourage knowledge sharing.

As advisors step into leadership roles, they unlock an opportunity to grow. Leadership is more than just telling people what to do; it's about inspiring people with different personalities and backgrounds to work together toward common goals. By working actively in this space, you’ll simultaneously have more fun and create better business outcomes.


Stephen Boswell is a partner with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell

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