Leadership for the New Year

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The New Year brings retrospection and anticipation. For all of us who manage and lead people, it’s an opportune time to resolve how to strengthen these key functions in the months ahead.

For passionate, busy advisers who are also business owners, managerial and leadership responsibilities can be daunting and take a back seat to the professional role of advising clients. Because of time constraints that always exist, an adviser/business owner’s focus and energy slide automatically to tactical asset allocation, fund selection, and strengthening client relationships instead of strategic planning, procedure development, or employee performance reviews. But limited motivation for leadership development can cause a small business owner to develop a lop-sided organization—one where clients are loyal, happy, and referring others, but where employee turnover is high, inefficiency is rampant, and cost structure is out of control.

Is it worth your while to reassess your leadership style? There are several instruments that can give you a glimpse of the style that is natural for you. The best tools tend to assess how you value results, schedules, timelines, accountability (referred to as task orientation) versus career development, job satisfaction, and relationships with employees (referred to as people orientation). Most of us tip in one direction or the other.

The value in gaining this awareness is that it helps us modify our own behavior. Depending on how much we lean in one direction or the other, we can remind ourselves to tip our behavior in the opposite direction. I tip toward task orientation, so I need to remind myself to chat with staff once in a while, to take a little more time to develop relationships internally, or simply to spend more time listening to my employees or to managing by wandering around (MBWA).

Determining what our natural tendencies are—and staying aware of them—can help us become better managers and leaders throughout 2010. It is an excellent investment of time, and one that will pay off handsomely.

How do you need to consciously tip in 2010?

Joni Youngwirth
Managing Principle of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

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