Tolstoy said that all great ideas are simple ones. Lee Cockerell said, “If I was successful, it was because I hired the right people.” Cockerell, who was executive vice president of operations for Walt Disney World for 10 years, was speaking in mid-March to attendees of Commonwealth Financial Network’s annual Chairman’s Retreat, which I’ve had the privilege of attending for a number of years now.
Most advisors who are interested in growth and the future see their biggest issue as being able to find and hire the right people. One advisor at the Commonwealth gathering used those very words when asked what was his greatest challenge. Those people not only allow you to serve existing clients, they can help you grow your practice with new clients and new assets, and may, eventually, become part of your succession plan. Perhaps not surprisingly, Disney has an extensive process when it hires anyone as a “cast member” for any of its theme parks, including online questionnaires that precede in-person interviews. While most advisory firms are nowhere near as large as Disney, that doesn’t mean that your hiring process shouldn’t also focus on finding people who share the values of your firm. One important part of the Disney hiring process: making it very clear what its expectations are for new hires, and then continually training and testing new employees. “You can’t change people, you can only train them,” he said, but “if you do a good job of training,” Cockerell told the Commonwealth advisors with a chuckle, “you can take a nap.”
So are you a manager or a leader? Cockerell suggested that to be a good manager, you need competency in your field: management competency (including good time management and focusing on what’s important), technology competency (“Companies that can personalize and individualize will win”) and leadership competency. So what is leadership and how does it differ from management? “Management is about how to do; leadership is about how to be,” said Cockerell.
Then how should you be if you want to be a leader? It’s about how you treat your people, Cockerell suggested. “People need to know that they matter. Tell them.” He further suggested a simple change to your daily procedure to demonstrate that leadership. “Before you touch your work” and sit down at your computer when you arrive in the office each day, “touch your people” individually, he counseled. Ask them how they’re doing, get feedback and provide appreciation, recognition and encouragement. Providing those three things to all your people will yield a great return to your bottom line, he promised.