To be a great leader, don’t clone yourself — let each team member shine in their own unique way. That’s the advice of FranklinCovey leadership expert Scott Miller, who for 15 years worked closely with Dr. Steven Covey, author of the enduring bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
In an interview with ThinkAdvisor, Miller, executive vice president of thought leadership, discusses why good leaders are “genius-makers” and that, in the male-dominated financial services industry, leaders of either gender should “lift up” women.
His newest book is “Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team,” written with Todd Davis and Victoria Roos Olsson, both of FC (Simon & Schuster — October 2020).
The six practices include developing a leader’s mindset, creating a culture of feedback and leading a team through change.
In the interview, Miller talks about the delicate balance of being the leader when one is also the team’s coach. A leader’s primary job, he says, is to create a transparent culture where people can meet and exceed goals — versus a toxic environment workers want to flee.
Some people may be born leaders. On average, employees assume their first leadership role at the age of 30, yet aren’t exposed to leadership training till they reach 42, according to the Harvard Business Review, FranklinCovey points out.
Miller has been with the consultancy, which specializes in organizational performance improvement, for 23 years. He hosts leadership webcasts and podcasts, and writes a column for Inc. magazine.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the management expert, who was speaking from firm headquarters in Salt Lake City. He stressed the importance of empathic listening and called “idiotic” the widespread impression that strong leaders are poor listeners.
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: What’s the difference between a leader and a boss?
SCOTT MILLER: If you believe you’re someone’s boss, you inherently think they need to be bossed — that they’re not competent or able to bring their best and require you to manage their time. In contrast, leaders think people need to be led by setting vision and direction and by helping to pull out talents to maximize their own genius. If you’re insecure about your own competence, you will boss people around. If you’re confident and secure in your own contribution, you’ll lead others to the greatness they can contribute.
Many FAs are leaving wirehouses and going on their own as RIA. That means they’re now heading a small business. Is being a leader in that scenario different from what you just described?
There are some slight nuances: When you’re the founder, creator, owner of a startup enterprise, some issues are different from being a CEO or a line leader at a large firm. [As an entrepreneur], you’re probably off the charts in terms of your energy level. You’re probably quite deliberate about bringing your vision to life — and you probably have a little do-it-my-way-or-the-highway mentality. You likely have a high quality standard and a relentless work ethic and expect others to have the same.
So should you want your partners and associates to emulate much of that?
What you don’t want to do is create clones of yourself. Your job is to make sure you bring other people to the table that have different points of view. People can get results that are just as good or even better than yours by having different processes and talents. So be mindful that as the owner, you’re going to have a bit of a prejudiced point of view on how things should be done.
What could the downside be in that situation?
If you repel people because they don’t like you or don’t find you compelling or trustworthy, you’re never going to be able to scale, replicate and build a high-trust brand and high-trust offering. You need to let other people shine and bring their own talents and processes into play.
A serious issue in the male-dominated financial services industry is that men often disrespect and mistreat the women. How should a male leader behave?
It’s the job of senior leadership regardless of gender to lift up and build the capability and respect for females at all levels. There may be some women that show high levels of character and competence who deserve to be lifted up even a little disproportionately because they’ve been held back, disrespected or maliciously prevented from getting the respect they deserve and earned.