The ClientWise Blog

Defining your Legacy as Leader and Financial Advisor

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Jun 18, 2013, 10:14:00 AM


What is your legacy as a financial advisor and leader?

Max De Pree is the chairman emeritus of Herman Miller, Inc., an innovator in the office furniture business over the past one-hundred+ years. Herman Miller, Inc. has long been regarded as one of America’s most respected companies, and has received a many distinguished awards over the years, e.g. Fortune’s list of “Most Admired”, and “100 Best Companies to Work For”, and “Top Ten Most Trustworthy Public Companies”.

Max De Pree is also the author of Leadership is an Art, a book that Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, called “one of the best books I have ever read in my life on the subject of leadership and business management philosophy.”

Within this short and perceptive book, Mr. De Pree leaves us with many elegant observations on the concept of leadership. One really stood out for me. Not only for its elegance, but also for its relevance to successful financial advisors who are leaders…of their team, office, firm, or community.

“The art of leadership requires us to think about the leader-as-steward in terms of relationships: of assets, legacy, of momentum and effectiveness, of civility and values.”


Leaders as Stewards

What is so interesting to me is that De Pree frames up leadership in the form of stewardship, as opposed to ownership. This is a not-so-subtle difference. Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. Stewardship is closely linked to the concept of sustainability.

For financial advisors who are leaders, the leader-as-steward leads me to some important coaching questions…questions that come to mind in my conversations with leaders within the financial advisory community:


  • With respect to the planning and management of your team and/or firm, what legacy would you like to lead?
  • In De Pree’s view, leaders are obligated to provide and maintain momentum, or the feeling among a group of people that their lives and work are moving toward a recognizable and legitimate goal. What sustainable momentum have you provided for your team? 
  • Leaders can delegate efficiency, but they must deal personally with effectiveness. As a leader, how have you?


Leaders-as-stewards approach leadership in a precise and faithful manner, especially with regards to assisting others and providing service. Through this allegiance to others, these leaders build teams and organizations that can serve many, many generations.


For more insights and observations on leadership for financial advisors, please download the complimentary ClientWise Learning Tool below:


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Topics: Business and Operations Management, Leadership