Years of accumulated research has taught us a simple, irrefutable fact. The most effective team leaders guide and manage from within the team structure rather than directing from above. Not only do they see themselves as team members, they have effectively shifted their mindset from personal success to focus on team success.
For many advisors who for years have functioned as sole practitioners, this shift can be an arduous challenge – constantly fighting the urge to simply dictate rather than building consensus within the team. In terms of time, energy, and attention, it’s pivotal that you demonstrate a willingness to give equal, if not more, priority to team activities and team productivity; to encourage interdependence more than independence.
The most effective team leaders are those who align and merge their individual goals into team goals. They celebrate the achievement of team goals more than individual goals, creating an environment where team participation and success is clearly defined, measured, and rewarded. And they foster and encourage new ideas, shared learning, process improvements and service enhancements from ALL team members.
Take a minute to honestly assess whether or not you meet all of the following characteristics of a strong team leader:
❑ I believe I am a team member as well as a team leader.
❑ I regularly act in the role of a team member.
❑ I invite members of my team to teach me so that shared learning occurs.
❑ I believe team success is more important than individual success.
❑ I have aligned and merged my individual goals into team goals and encourage my team members to do the same.
❑ I celebrate and reward team behavior and success.
❑ I encourage team participation.
If you were able to check all the boxes above, congratulations! Keep up the terrific work. You’ve certainly established yourself as an inspiring leader. For most of us, however, there are likely a few areas where there’s room for improvement. Recognizing those weaknesses as opportunities is the first step.
One of Jack Welch’s most famous quotes states: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others and growing yourself with and through others.” Successful team leadership requires continuous growth in your skills as both a team member and a team guide. By more deeply ingraining these behaviors into your practice, you’ll create a more cohesive team that’s powerfully positioned for significant and sustainable success.
Coaching Questions from this article:
- How often and in what ways do you share leadership of your team?
- What kind of mentorship program exists for you and your team members so they can learn from others and you can learn from them?
- Think about your firm’s compensation structure. In what ways could it be modified to further incent the accomplishment of team goals more than individual goals?