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Four Real Deal Leadership Traits

Four Real Deal Leadership Traits

Say what you’re going to do and do what you say. And do it well.

Are you part of a wealth management team, an ensemble, or a sole practitioner with one or more support personnel? Over 50% of advisors claim to be on a team in some capacity. That’s great news as far as I’m concerned. Affluent investors make smarter financial decisions when they have a qualified financial team on their side.

As many have experienced, teams can be simple in concept but challenging in execution. Hiring, training and mentoring all take considerable time and most firms don’t put forth enough energy.

The best teams have the best leaders. This is far different than simply having the best salesperson or money manager. Leadership requires a unique set of skills and a commitment to evolving as the times change.

There are a few key things I’d like to reinforce today as it relates to leadership. It’s important to…

  1. Center your attention on your people – It seems as though “process” has become the new financial advisor buzzword when it comes to anything related to practice management. Yet it’s your people who are your process. Sure, you need to have policies and procedures in place, but it’s your people who will determine whether they are executed consistently with the highest level of professionalism.

    It’s quite common for ideas on improving policies and procedures to come from the people who are in the trenches and executing them. When a team leader pays attention to the people this type of open communication is much more likely to occur. As business guru and author Jim Collins says, “Get the right people on the bus.” It’s a people business.
  2. Inspect what is important – We are big believers in the concept of inspecting what you expect, but we are not advocating becoming a micromanager. We’ve seen financial advisors fall into this trap, the “nobody will do it as well as me” mindset and create a prison for themselves and everyone on the team. The secret is to focus your attention on those key areas that are important (proposals, transactions, new account forms, scheduling, etc.) and resist the temptation to weigh in on the small things (i.e. the re-stocking of the team’s refrigerator).
  3. Modify your communication to fit each individual – Every member of your team is different. Shifting gears to match their communication style will help you have a more productive relationship. If you’re not sure of everyone’s communication style, there are several behavioral style instruments on the market you can use. If you decide to use one of these, make certain everyone on the team is included and get some guidance on how to both interpret and use the tool.
  4. Ask questions; Don’t be a Know-It-All – This is a tough one. Elite team leaders are elite financial advisors. They’ve achieved this exalted status because they are extremely good at what they do. They are true knowledge workers. That said, they also make a habit of asking questions and gathering input from those around them. It helps the team leader make better decisions and it keeps their teams engaged.

The key takeaway resides within the old adage; say what you’re going to do and do what you say. And do so extremely well. Personalized service is in a free fall; commit to exceeding affluent expectations and whether you're part of a wealth management team, an ensemble, or a sole practitioner—you’re the real deal.

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent

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