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A Little Bit Of Thought Leadership And A Few Research Findings From The Founder

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When I was 14 years old I had a seminal life experience. This experience provided the nudge I needed to help me determine what I wanted to do with my life. The experience? An older family member tried to convince me that highly successful people were born to be successful and that unsuccessful people were born to be unsuccessful. I tried to convince this person that successful people learned to be successful and that unsuccessful people learned to be unsuccessful but they wouldn't budge. In fact, they dug their heels in deeper and deeper. This conversation left me incredibly frustrated but also highly motivated.

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I chose to nickname our highest performing leader "The Snow Leopard Leader" for three reasons:

  • Snow Leopard Leaders are majestic creatures just like Snow Leopards.
  • Snow Leopard Leaders are a rare and endangered species just like Snow Leopards.
  • The term Snow Leopard is pretty cool. I mean really... Who doesn't want to think of themselves as a Snow Leopard?

We, as an industry and as a society, need more Snow Leopard Leaders. If our organizational ecosystem is to improve its overall health we will need more Snow Leopard Leaders to be released into the wild. Fortunately for us, Snow Leopard Leaders are not born, they are built through experience, training and study. We hope this series has laid out a roadmap for your journey to Snow Leopard Leader status.

So... Are you a Snow Leopard Leader?

The Snow Leopard Leader is a leader known for being strong in all seven of the core leadership styles...

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What is the most efficient form of leadership?

The most efficient form of leadership is Track-Record Leadership. When a leader has a reputation for consistent success, and has the history to back it up, he/she will have a much, much, much easier time creating a following. When you've got track-record the "proof is in the pudding" and the pudding is known by everybody to be delicious. When the Track-Record leader speaks, people follow. They follow because they know the Track-Record leader has a history of getting things done and getting things done right.

Track record: noun – A record of achievements or performance.

Track-Record Leadership is an interesting and exciting study. Track-Record Leadership represents the most challenging of leadership titles to acquire, but also some of the most important foundational components of leadership development and effective leadership. Track-Record Leadership is based in strength of personal or team reputation.

On the difficult side, it requires time, risk, and a...

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Not long after the terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 people on September 11, 2001, I joined three friends on a trip to New York City. It was October and the Yankees were playing the Diamondbacks in the World Series. As lifelong Bostonians and diehard Boston Red Sox fans you would never, under normal circumstances, find any of us at Yankee Stadium rooting for the Yankees. But for us, making this trip, putting on Yankees caps and cheering for the team in pinstripes along with a crowd full of New Yorkers was our small way of showing support.

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Building a spreadsheet, a new product, a solid presentation deck, a new office, financial models or go to market strategy are all rewarding endeavors. But... NOTHING is more rewarding, fun and integral to the health of a financial institution than building, motivating and inspiring a human being. In financial services people are your competitive advantage and, like any team member, they need to be - for lack of a better term - fired up!

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September 7, 1994 (Park Hyatt Hotel - Chicago - Lobby Bar)

"Investment Banks don't fail because they don't have a grand strategic vision for the future. They fail because they don't execute their supporting plans effectively. This is why Goldman Sachs wins so often. They've mastered both!"

I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. I was a freshly minted 24-year-old Vice President on his first day with the top bank consulting firm in the business. I flew from Boston to Chicago to meet our firm's president and to work with him on our first project together. About 5 minutes after checking in at the hotel my new boss summoned me for a chat. He shared many directives with me during that first conversation, but it is the quote above that has stuck with me - and been validated almost daily - over the past 21 years. When banks are led by leaders who focus on both big picture vision AND day-to-day operational execution they tend to dramatically outperform their competitors.

Operations:...

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The problem in financial services today is not a lack of individual possession of knowledge. We are an industry of highly educated and expertly trained technical financial professionals. The problem we face is that we need to get better at using this knowledge for more than our own personal advancement and enrichment. We must improve on our ability to use the knowledge we've acquired to develop, coach and lead others. As leaders in financial services we must constantly share our knowledge, and great knowledge leaders share their knowledge for the benefit of those they lead, their organization and the industry as a whole.

Knowledge: noun – A deep knowledge of how something works, what its features are, or how to do something.

Knowledge Leadership is all about the depth and strength of a person’s (or team’s) knowledge and/or skills. Our research indicates that people who make a choice to follow a leader are very often concerned with a leader’s competence around a particular topic or task. Those who possess deep knowledge of a...

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Here is a fun (not so fun) 10-second experiment for those of you who work in financial services: Before you read this post open a new browser window and Google search "least trusted industry" and see what pops up.

If you are like me you probably cringed a little bit as you viewed the search results. After spending 5 minutes reading through a few of the headlines I forced myself to say it out loud a few times.

I work in the least trusted industry!

That didn't feel very good at all. In fact, it made me feel pretty lousy. But, as they say, perception is often reality. If the world doesn't think we are trustworthy then... Houston we have a problem! Our clients and prospective clients question our character, our ethos, our motives, our morals and our business practices. We need to change this and we need leaders (at the executive level and on the front lines) who will drive this change. We need more Ethos Leaders!

Ethos:...

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If financial institutions expect to thrive in the future they will need to develop people and teams defined by a culture of leadership. The concept of “effective leadership” is a topic that has been discussed and hotly debated for decades. But leadership is very often considered, by many, to be an intangible series of innate qualities possessed and understood by only a “gifted” few.

Yet the need for leadership has never been more acute. In fact, recent studies indicate that the leadership gap in organizations has become wider in recent years. There is a distinct lack of leadership development in the executive ranks today, and fully 20% of organizations now offer absolutely no coaching and development for executives at all.

Leadership, on the most basic level, represents one person’s ability to influence people – and hopefully larger groups of people – to follow a specific course of action, or to perform a particular action in a certain way. The key word in the previous sentence is “influence.” Effective leaders have the ability to inspire teams large and small, and...

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This is our first official blog post! As we planned for launch we thought long and hard about what we wanted our first article to focus on. We quickly concluded that an updated version of a commentary piece we wrote for American Banker Magazine in 2013 would be the perfect - and most ironic - way for us to throw our hat in the digital publishing ring. Enjoy!

In May 2013 I celebrated 25 years in financial services. I am, almost officially, one of the "older guys." And I love it! I recently taught a new associate workshop for a long time client of mine. As I reviewed the participant list I realized that every participant scheduled to attend had been born at least a year after I had worked my first day in the industry back in 1988.

To celebrate the milestones I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to reflect on my time in the industry. One coffee quickly turned into three and as the hours passed the pages in my notebook filled up.

As I reviewed my notes something unexpected happened. I began to question my generational identity. I started in...

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