INDIANAPOLIS – Leadership is quality that’s always in high demand in this industry – but what should advisors be doing to become good leaders? According to industry expert and Financial Planning contributor Bob Veres, the how-to’s of leadership are left unspoken too often.

"We're told to exert and foster leadership but nowhere are we told what it is, or more particularly, how to develop it,” Veres told attendees during a session at the NAPFA Fall Conference.  “How do you measure it? How do you increase your leadership component?”

Veres says identifying certain “leadership factors” can help advisors get on track to be better leaders. Here are some key takeaways from his presentation.


While advisors often spend a great deal of time thinking about goals and objectives for their firms and clients, many fail to articulate them to the rest of the members of their operations. While you may be able to identify how your firm makes the world a better place, your team might need a little help. Taking the time to explain and remind them of your vision can help give their work a bigger sense of purpose. 

"Don't assume your team knows this. Chances are they don't. They see the task, they see the work, but they don't necessarily see how it contributes to the goal or know what the goal is or how their work contributes to it," Veres said. "When they see how their contributions are making the world a better place, that's when they'll buy into your leadership."


A good way to find the right words is by keeping your ears open. Veres suggests that advisors in leadership positions take the time to aggregate best practice ideas from industry leaders and share them with their peers. Often, he says, advisors will have to make choices about which ideas make the most sense.

“You’re sifting through all these ideas…you have a vote and the votes decide. Some people rally around certain ideas and other ideas don't get [as much support.] Exercising that vote is exercising leadership.“ He also notes, however, that in a business setting "not all votes are equal." Some people are more persistent or have more credibility with the audience, he says.

Thinking about your business’s objectives may mean walking away from the pile of work on your desk more often, he adds.

“Diligently doing your job doesn't make you a leader. You have to do something outside of simply doing your job in order to become a leader,” said Veres. “That may be the easiest way to stand out: Simply apply time and energy to thinking about these things.”

Veres says a good way to broaden your leadership scope is to become a collector of the best ideas you can find, thinking about how they apply to yourself, your business, and the industry as a whole. Collecting good ideas can be as easy as walking into a room full of your peers.

"I always lead with questions,” Veres said. “I never lead with my thoughts when I walk in a room. I always learn more than I say.”

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