Most financial advisors didn’t get into this profession to manage people or to run a business. They got into it because of their love for finance and investing, and a desire to help people on their own journeys to fulfillment. But one day (and many can say they’ve already experienced this) they find themselves running their own practice, managing a team of people and tackling various other quandaries unrelated to the core of what they envisioned.
There is no one particular skillset developed from formal education or past experience to best manage all of these challenges. However, there are some common traits that good leaders tend to embody.
1. Leaders Are Trustworthy
Do you keep your word even in emergencies, when there is incredible stress? Reach out to your team and top clients to find out what they say about you and get a clear picture of how you show up to others. Will your team, clients, and other connections say you have impeccable integrity and a great attitude?
Research year after year shows integrity is universally the number one thing employees want from their leader. Be honest, candid and treat everyone in the same way you yourself would want to be treated. They don’t call it the Golden Rule for nothing!
2. Leaders Are Inspirational
I’m sure you’ve painted a vision of your future, but have you painted that picture for others to see and feel? We work with a lot of advisors on doing just that through our blueprinting process: creating your mission, vision, values, message and how to answer the questions of what you do and why you do it. In fact, it’s often the first thing we do when coaching advisors because everything else you do stems from what you find and develop during this exercise.
The best advisors inspire action. They do so by clearing away the roadblocks that constrain their team’s creativity and drive. They also find ways to share their detailed vision with their team so each member of the team understands how his or her role contributes to the big picture. How do you educate and communicate your mission, vision and values to your team? To your new hires?
Create a checklist as visual reminder to communicate these concepts to each client and team member. It may sound like the least inspiring thing to do, but trust me, in order to be an inspiration to others you must first educate them on what drives you. The more passionate you are with this message, the stronger your following will be.
3. Leaders Build Relationships
What do you do to sustain your relationships? Do you know your clients and their families? Do you know your team and their families? The more you can know about those you are spending time with, the deeper the connections.
The key to building and maintaining any good relationship is communication. So think about how you communicate with your team and your clients. It allows others to know exactly where you stand and how you think so they feel comfortable with someone they trust.
4. Leaders Are Flexible
Change is the one thing that remains constant in our lives. It can be exhilarating on the one hand and stressful on the other. Because of this, your team and will always be looking to you for direction. Will you be seen as someone that falls apart when times get tough, or are you good at recognizing change and implementing processes to address it?
If you’re uncertain how you manage change, it’s time for some serious reflection regarding your role as a leader and advisor. An advisor must always be the calm within a financial storm of the markets; able to clearly and confidently communicate with their team in times of turmoil; and always the person to look at for direction in times of growth.
5. Leaders Are Knowledgeable
Leaders in general, but financial advisors specifically, must continually seek knowledge to ensure they remain the best at what they do. Read business publications, take training programs and receive coaching to hone your skills and education.
Along with this constant desire to learn and grow comes confidence. If you’re confident in the value you provide to your clients, your team will catch it, too. As with any leader of an organization, you have others trusting you to make the right decision at the right time. And as much confidence as this may give you, it also requires your competence. Decisions will always have to be made, and effective leaders aren’t afraid to make the tough calls.
Learning how to be an effective manager and good leader is a lifelong process but absolutely critical to your continued success. A remarkable amount of time, effort and research is devoted to this role in every profession, and that only tells me one thing as an executive business coach: being an effective manager, good leader and competent advisor is more important than ever to your growth in an ever-changing landscape.