Are You Ready to be a Financial Advisor that Leads?

My focus, over the last several posts, has been on how you can demonstrate leadership with your clients.

But I have a question. What about you? How are you doing?

Yesterday, I ran a webinar on the idea of active leadership and you’re welcome to access the replay here. One of the concepts I touched on, during the webinar, was that of the “root question”. That is, what is the question we need to ask ourselves before we can truly demonstrate client leadership?

The root question is this. Am I ready to lead?

Before we ask how we can lead clients, we need to ask if we are ready to lead.

Being ready to do something is, of course, different from wanting to do something. We can’t pretend that you aren’t affected significantly by what’s going on, as well as your clients. Although you’re doing everything you can to help your clients, you don’t get a pass on the impact of this pandemic on your lives and your businesses. And that is very, very real.

I’ve talked to many advisors over the last few weeks. And while the focus has been on clients and communication, we’ve also talked about our businesses and about what’s happening and how we feel. These are some of the most honest, real and vulnerable conversations I’ve had, with advisors, in a very long time.

The more we talk, the more I can see a clear pattern. The pattern is the path that that we are on – a path that takes us from barely getting by to feeling ready to move forward.

As the pandemic took hold, we all started at the base of the pyramid. Our focus was on the immediate. Can we function? Can we work remotely? Is there food on the table? Is everyone healthy? We were forced to ‘react’ to get through the next hour, or the next day. Let’s call this survival mode.

Once we answered the fundamental questions, it freed up some space in our brains to move to the next level. At that point, instead of asking if we can get by, we broadened our perspective slightly. Is my family ok? Am I ok? Are my clients ok? We shifted from survival mode to protective mode. From a business perspective, that meant getting real about assessing vulnerabilities and risks, including team, revenue and expenses.

Once we know we’re ‘ok’ (or as ‘ok’ as is possible right now), we began to move to the top of the pyramid. We start to change our mindset, ever so slightly, to look forward and to think about impact. Now we’re asking a different question. What can I do to make a difference with my clients and my family and my community right now?

Here we shift from a protective mode to a more proactive mode and focus on what we might think of as opportunities to connect, engage and support.

In many ways, this feels like Maslow’s hierarchy and the same principles apply. The reality is that if you are going through (maybe feeling stuck in) the first two levels, it’s very hard to focus on the bigger picture. No judgement; just reality.

So if your goal is to demonstrate leadership, you need to give yourself the time to move up this pyramid as well. If nothing else, this time in history is reminding us that we’re human – we haven’t been given superpowers that allow us to ignore our own needs and challenges.

If client leadership is your goal, check in on where you are on the path first so you can provide the guidance your clients need and deserve.

Related: What Are Clients Interested in Learning About Right Now?