As in every crisis, real leaders show up and pretenders get shown up. 

This pandemic is no exception. We’ve seen incredible leadership from first responders, doctors and healthcare professionals, and many people previously taken for granted such as our delivery workers, food preparers and distributors, grocery clerks, and other duly recognized essential workers. And in the political area, leadership doesn’t just reside with one party. Ohio governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, and New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, have shown leadership and made some tough decisions that, while not pleasing everyone, were made from deep-seated principles and values.

But we need more.

The reality is, we continue to need leaders at all levels of society to step up and be the light that illuminates the path forward. That includes you as a financial advisor.

You have a circle of influence called “clients.” And there’s another circle called “potential clients.” In those two circles alone your potential reach is far and wide.

You have the talent and skills to be one of the people who can cut through the noise and help make sense of what's happening. You can be a source of wisdom, insight, practicality, and hope. You can rise to occasion while others fall back to their comfort zone. 

The medical, social, political, and economic ramifications of the pandemic will be with us for years to come. None of us know how it will evolve but what I do know is we need real leaders like you to help the public navigate the uncertainty.

By standing up, speaking out, and telling the truth as best as you know it, you can help the hurting, deliver insight instead of spin, and lead the way forward to a better future for those in your circle of influence.

Before I share seven characteristics of real leaders, I want to define the type of leadership I think we need right now. It’s what author Jim Collins calls Level 5 leadership. He described a Level 5 leader this way:
“Level 5 leaders display a powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will. They're incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not themselves. While Level 5 leaders can come in many personality packages, they are often self-effacing, quiet, reserved, and even shy.” Source.

Not surprisingly, there are four other levels of leaders according to Collins: Level 1— the highly capable individual, Level 2 — a contributing team member, Level 3 — a competent manager, Level 4 — an effective leader, and then the Level 5 leader.

In a podcast last year with Kara Swisher, Collins said:

“The essential difference between the five and the four is the answer to a simple question: What’s the truth of your ambition? I mean, what are you truly ambitious for? Are you leading in a spirit of service to something that is bigger and more important than you are? What is your company trying to accomplish in the world; its responsibility in the world? Are you ambitious for that thing that’s bigger than you and do you have a genuine humility to learn and to grow and adapt and realize your failings combined with this incredible sense of will?”

I love that question, “What’s the truth of your ambition?” Think about it. I recently spoke to a financial advisor who said he has all the money he’ll ever need, but he wants to keep growing and double his business in the next five years. Why? Because he feels he has a gift to help people make breakthroughs in life… and he wants to foster these breakthroughs for more people. That’s an advisor who is ambitious for something that’s bigger than himself. That’s an advisor who has the humility to shine the light out, not in. That’s a Level 5 leader in the making.

Can you be a Level 5 leader? YES! Aspire to it. Develop that indomitable will toward something that’s bigger than you and do it with an unusual level of humility. We don’t need bigger egos in this world. We need bigger visions from people who want to serve, not be served.
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