Leadership: A Key Element for Your Business

Growing your independent financial advisory business is not simply about being good at filling key roles in your business but, is more about good leadership. The greater your growth in leadership, the more your business will grow.

Consider that your business is all about meeting needs - the needs of clients, employees, product providers, investors and in some cases, members of the community. The best businesses understand this and do their best to meet those needs. To be able to meet others’ needs, a business must first satisfy its own needs. These are to attract, satisfy and retain clients; recruit, hire and train employees; generate and manage money; and, most importantly, offer good leadership. As a business owner, CEO, senior adviser or a member of the senior management team, you  carry a significant burden of responsibility and must strive to fully understand your roles and how to balance them.

Whether or not you employ staff, you inevitably ‘wear two hats’ within your business at one time or another. If you have staff, in the event of employee absence you will need to move from business owner to technician, in other words become a worker in your business, or ensure the work is delegated to the appropriate person. If you operate alone, as an adviser within a business, you spend your day balancing the roles of planning and strategising (working on the business,  and being a technician who provides advice.

Most business owners are specialists in the technical aspects of their profession, while few are specialists in the technical aspects of running a profitable business. Therefore, you need to consider the tactical and strategic work of your business and the two roles you play in making your business profitable and sustainable.

Tactical work involves the delivery of advisory services. Since many business owners fulfil the role of financial adviser, this function requires them to ‘wear their ‘technician hat’ and work in the business. Strategic work is what shapes the tactical work. A business cannot thrive without active management so, as a business owner, you are required to wear your ‘business owner hat’ and focus on your business by planning, forecasting and measuring profitability and sustainability.

Your real work is therefore about rising to the constant challenge of developing the leader within and balancing both roles.

Leadership involves setting clear strategic direction and driving superior execution across all aspects of operations and technology. Leaders define the direction and market placement of their businesses. They determine how to achieve competitive advantage and with whom to partner to meet clients’ needs. Leaders have their sights set on where their business should be headed and how the idea will be executed.

A good leader also understands that specialised tasks are done better by people with specialised training. Bear in mind that a business grows faster and with a higher degree of quality when the time and talents of others are used and that leadership is about appointing staff members, training them to effectively perform their tasks and supervising those tasks to completion. It includes inspiring your staff to feel excited about your business and their work and encouraging them to excel.

In light of this, take a look at your business and yourself from a new perspective. How can you use your business to get more out of your life? Do you view your business as separate from yourself? Do you understand that the business is a product of yourself? Will you be able to reinvent it? Can you take a step outside of your business and look at it objectively?

Leadership is a key element in the overall success of your business and the secret to realising the vision requires you to balance the work that must be done both on the business and within it. With this balanced approach you can become a better entrepreneur, a stronger leader and the owner of a far more successful business that you really enjoy running.

Mimi Pienaar

Mimi Pienaar

Head of Practice Management, Masthead (Pty) Ltd