How to Be a Leader Worth Following
What makes a good leader?
It’s a question that’s been asked for centuries. The Greek philosopher Plato spent a great deal of time writing about leadership.
It’s still tough to come up with a concrete answer.
When we think about leaders, the general consensus is usually to think first of coaches, politicians, or business owners.
NBA coach Phil Jackson, Presidents Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama, or transformative personalities like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Cathie Wood might all spring to mind.
Great leaders don’t all share the same personalities, though. If you’re an advisory firm owner, who do you look to when building your personal leadership style? And what kinds of tools can you leverage to make sure you’re an effective leader that other people want to follow?
Your employees want you to be a great leader, because they want to succeed along with you.
In this blog, we’ll look at some of the qualities that all good leaders share and find a link to how better technology supports better leadership.
What Makes a Good Leader?
If you ask ten people for ideas about what makes a good leader, you might get ten varying responses.
But we think there are a handful of traits that can be shared among leaders, regardless of their personalities and approach to business or life.
The underlying focus of leadership, after all, is how to develop a model that others want to follow. These are the three traits we think set leaders apart.
Leaders have to have fundamental belief systems that they follow. Few things are more frustrating to your employees than someone who’s constantly shifting their expectations for what they expect from the people who work under them.
The language you use with your staff seeps into the client experience, and a unified brand makes clients feel that they’re in good hands.
Consistent processes within an advisory firm can mean the difference between a satisfied client and one who’s always thinking about leaving their advisor for someone new. When an employee isn't sure of a process to follow, satisfied clients don’t often follow.
On the flip side, though, employees gain confidence when the leader of an advisory firm knows how they want to service clients and can communicate their expectations clearly. When you operate with consistency, your team knows what to do—and your business can rise and grow as a result of that.
Throwing sugar on a problem doesn’t make it sweeter, it only makes it worse. The best leaders approach client and employee relationships with direct and decisive action.
We’re big believers in being direct and honest at Riskalyze. In fact, it’s one of our core company values:
"Direct communication" means we cut to the heart of the issue and openly discuss problems, so we can solve them quickly. We set aside rank and title, and thoughtfully push back at each other’s arguments, using data whenever we have it. We reject stilted diplomacy and efforts to save face, and prefer straight answers delivered with respect and kindness. We challenge “sacred cows” and “elephants in the room” wherever and whenever we see them.
If you want to solve problems quickly, save time, and keep your company growing instead of shrinking, put direct communication at the top of your list. Your team won’t have to guess at your true motivations or hidden thoughts, and you’ll all be better off for it.
Putting Others First
You’ve likely heard the term “servant leadership” at some point in your career. This principle means that your leadership style upends the traditional approach.
Instead of working from a position of power, you instead focus on your team and making them successful by serving them. You put in the time and effort to learn about their style of working and look for ways to support and encourage them instead of ruling with a heavy, top-down fist.
Can Technology Make You a Better Boss?
If being a good leader is about listening to your team and being present in the moment, then it seems like technology should be able to play an important role in enhancing the way you lead your team.
If technology makes you more efficient in your job, saves you time, and keeps you focused on doing the work that matters, then it follows that you should be able to enhance the way you lead your team through it as well.
Let’s think about it in terms of those three leadership traits we just covered.
When you leverage technology that helps you approach work with defined processes, you help keep yourself committed to being consistent. After all, if a workflow (like following the same Risk Questionnaire process each time instead of adapting it for each client interaction) can be repeated and is set in stone in your technology, you’re less likely to move away from it on a whim.
Ideally, your technology should help you be a more decisive boss by empowering you with the data you need to make quick, accurate decisions.
Case in point: If you’re building a portfolio (or your employee is creating one) you need to know that the allocations you’ve set will be the right mix for a client’s situation and goals. When you’ve got technology at your side to make that an objective choice, you can move on and keep your focus on supporting and trusting your team instead of getting into their work and making minor changes that can disrupt their desire to follow you.
The best technology can illustrate your expertise in a way that brings both your staff and your clients into the process, so they can understand it and make decisions together. When you start relationships off with the Risk Number®, you keep the conversation where it should be: on your client, their hopes and fears, and what you need to do to support their dreams.
And when you’re able to treat clients as individuals, your administrative staff can as well. When all team members are speaking the same language, clients feel known. That’s powerful.
In the end, being a great leader for your team comes down to being present in the moment and making decisions that will empower them to serve your clients better. Using technology to enhance your communication with clients, and keep you and your employees on the same page, can be one way to do that.
Click here to learn more about how Riskalyze can help you make objective investment comparisons. You can finish your work faster, trust your team’s decisions, and keep your focus where it belongs—on leading your team and growing your business.