For benefit adviser success, create a winning theme

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Every adviser should have a plan that clearly outlines where his or her company is going and that serves as a rallying cry for everyone on the team.

People want to work toward a higher purpose beyond the next task on their to-do list, and they need to see a direct connection between their daily work and the organization’s larger goals. They need to feel that everyone is in this together and that the entire team is working as a unified group to achieve something bigger than they could accomplish on their own.

Random activities set by the throw of a dart and objectives determined at the whim of the leaders is a haphazard way to build a business, and the outcomes will likely reflect the disorganization and lack of focus.

But when the organization is unified around a clear picture of what the adviser wants to achieve and the adviser’s team believes in the vision, they start to develop an intrinsic motivation to dig down deep and put in the extra work to reach their goals.

Create a theme

Getting people excited about a vision is much easier when it can be simply expressed in a few meaningful words that immediately resonate, can be communicated quickly and that represent the organization’s bigger plans. To do this, create a theme.

Here’s an example. I worked for a company where my boss made a pitch to re-organize separate corporate sales teams into a single, unified team. The company was lost in its overall strategy, yet, as the sales team, it was our job to convince customers that we were a strong, unified, focused company.

My boss knew that to succeed, the sales people needed confidence and belief in what we were selling. Through his effort to bolster our team spirit, we set about creating our own goals, team structure and a culture to foster the confidence and trust we needed in each other to achieve this seemingly impossible task. We were told it couldn’t be done; yet we had a leader who had unwavering confidence in us that we could do it.

We all rallied around his vision and a more positive culture started to emerge. But corporate seemed determined to block our progress. At one particularly dismaying, yet exciting team development meeting, our fearless leader proclaimed emphatically, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

And, that was it. That became the theme for our team and our rallying cry. All we had to say was that one line and everyone knew what it represented:

· Confidence in ourselves and our team’s abilities
· A belief that we were selling something of value to our clients
· Our constant pursuit of improvement
· Our commitment to prove to everyone that the impossible can be done

One small phrase changed everything for this team. We created a logo to use on our internal materials and the jackets that we all wore proudly. We carried the spirit behind that phrase every day and used it as our constant reminder that we were working toward something larger than just a number randomly handed down by corporate.

A few pivotal ideas and actions drove our success:

· We had a leader with a clear vision that he shared regularly.
· Team members participated in developing our action plan.
· We each contributed and understood our roles.
· There was a culture of expectation, which created natural accountability.

I look back at this experience very fondly. It’s a real life example of how great leadership and teamwork can make a huge difference and grasp success from the jaws of defeat. And this approach can be put into motion anywhere. You just have to decide that this is the way you want to go.

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