Imagine a totem pole (if you’re wondering how this relates to your work as an advisor, just bear with me for a second). The pole is made up of beautiful carvings of various sizes and levels. The first level sits on a strong, solid base, while the carvings above it are mounted vertically to reach one, singular point.
Now, think of the long-term growth of your firm and team. To achieve your strategic goals, you need top performers and an environment that fuels the progress you need to succeed. None of that success is possible, however, without a strong foundation — the base of your totem pole. And that starts with your own, personal vision.
The “Vision” Aspect of Your Shared Vision
What drew you to start your firm? When asked this question, many advisors reply, “…to be my own boss.” But your purpose must be something more — after all, achieving your current level of success wasn’t easy! Some passion must have pulled at your heart and soul enough for you to put up with the abuses of entrepreneurship. That passion is motivating and energizing, and guess what … not just for you.
Gallup, in a meta-study encompassing nearly 2 million employees, found one of the factors most highly correlated with outcomes such as low turnover, profitability, and productivity was when employees were able to highly rate the statement, “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”. When you can articulate what drives you, you uncover tools that become your engine for growth, tools that help you build the totem pole until you reach the very top. Your inspiring vision will deliver energy, motivation, and clarity to all of the A-players at your firm.
We’re only going to focus on vision here, but let’s get some clarity around the difference between your “vision” and your “mission.” Your vision is your “why” — it’s your passion, a state of being. It’s future-focused and client-focused by stating the impact you aim to have on your clients’ lives. A vision without action, however, is simply a picture. You must also focus on the present and identify the mission: the required activity that delivers the vision, which we’ll share with you later.
Now, take out a sheet of paper and start to write:
Why did you become a financial advisor?
What drove you to build (or join) this business?
What keeps you coming back after every challenge?
When you are at work, what activity breathes life into you?
What do you do better than anything else?
If you were to ask your top five “clone-worthy” clients how you’ve changed their lives, what would they say? (Hey, now, there’s an idea! Why don’t you just do that? Tell these clients how much they mean to you and that you want their help. Take them to lunch and ask them.)
How do you define “success” for your clients?
When you get chills in a client meeting because of progress the client has made, what is the value you’ve delivered in that meeting?
The “Shared” Part of Your Shared Vision
Now, ask your leadership team (and/or all of your team members) to answer the same questions you answered above. You’ll be amazed by what your people say; they are on the front lines, after all. Together, you’ll have the raw material for starting a vision discussion and developing a “shared vision,” as a team.
The results from this exercise will be, of course, a definition of your why, a description of how you contribute to your clients’ success, and a description of what makes your firm stand out from the crowd. By engaging your team in the exercise, you will also inform better vision articulation. Most importantly, though, it gives meaning to everything your team does, inspiring them to think in terms of the ideal result of everything they do.
A growth culture will only happen when everyone rallies around a picture of what they are trying to accomplish. That’s the point — the singular point at the top of that totem pole.
Once you have established your vision and mission, you can move on to the next level on your growth trajectory: your firm’s strategic mission. We’ll be covering that step in the next installment of our Freedom & Growth Chronicles. Subscribe to the series to make sure you don’t miss it!