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What Great Financial Services Professionals Share in Common


The 7 Signs of an Exemplary Leader, Steward, and Decision-maker

Great financial services professionals:

1. Do not define themselves by what they do, but rather by who they are and how they do it. Professionals exhibit a balanced continuum between their leadership, stewardship, and governance (fiduciary responsibility). We use the term behavioral governance to define this continuum.

Behavioral governance is based on the groundbreaking academic research in neuro-leadership that has identified key neurological and psychological capacities that impact the quality of an effective and inspiring decision-making process. Studies suggest that behavioral governance will have more impact on the success of a professional than any other factor. As such, behavioral governance is a disruptive and superior alternative to the fiduciary standards being drafted by regulators.

2. Have the capacity to inspire and engage others.

3. Look for ways to increase their understanding of their own strengths and shortfalls. Professionals have the capacity to understand their own self within changing roles and requirements. They’re committed to self-improvement and life-long learning.

4. Are passionate and disciplined about protecting the long-term interests of others.

Related: Fiduciaries: You May Be Losin’ That Lovin’ Feelin’

5. Can build trust. Behavioral governance informs us that the keys to building trust is the professional’s ability to:

  • Enact a fair, just, and transparent process to resolve moral conflicts, or to allocate limited resources;
  • Provide shared visions and strategies that gain commitment and alignment, and inspire higher levels of performance; and
  • Adjust and adapt behaviors to enact more appropriate responses to ill-defined, changing, and evolving situations.   

6. Demonstrate the ability to manage the details of a procedurally prudent decision-making process. Procedural prudence is a legal term that defines an even higher standard of care than a best interests or suitability standard.

7. Are not afraid to fail. When they do fail, professionals have a strong sense of purpose and a well-defined moral and ethical framework to guide them back. They’re not so much remembered for their fifteen minutes of fame as they are for how they handled their fifteen minutes of shame.

Great financial services professionals start each day with a commitment to be a passionate steward of their various leadership roles. They understand that leadership is a privilege, not a right. It’s a responsibility; it’s a way of life, and not a title. They understand the importance of behavioral governance.

Editor’s note: We’ve selected this leadership piece to run today in honor of MLK.

The founding Directors of the Behavioral Governance Society include Don Trone, L5; Dr. Sean Hannah; Mary Lou Wattman, L5; Rear Admiral Steve Branham, USCG (Retired); and, Dr. John Sumanth. Director Sean Hannah is a member of the academic team that conducted the research in neuro-leadership. In 2017, Sean was recognized by the Academy of Management as the most impactful professor in the U.S. in the fields of leadership and management.  The Directors of the Society also are the Co-founders of 3ethos.

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