1. Establish, communicate and model values in the C-suite.
When it comes to values and culture, leading by example is crucial. Leaders need to determine their firm’s core values, communicate expectations that their teams will honor those values and actively model them in their management of the organization. While many firm leaders have their own values that move them forward, it is also invaluable to take the time to put these into writing and ensure they are communicated across the organization. This helps teams, new employees and the firm’s future leaders understand the shared principles that move the organization forward and inform decisions.
At Bailard, we selected six core values to define our culture: accountability, compassion, courage, excellence, fairness and independence. Our leaders demonstrate these values in a variety of ways. We practice compassion because we recognize that effective leadership requires empathy and an understanding of the factors that motivate our colleagues’ actions and behavior. We model accountability by taking responsibility for our own actions, as well as giving our employees the time and tools to be accountable for their own professional growth. Finally, we embrace courage as leaders that our teams trust to move the company forward.
2. Build trust with teams the same way you do with clients.
In a client-first service industry like finance, the same skills you leverage in client communications apply to addressing your internal team. Senior leaders should sit down with employees of all levels and gain an understanding not only of their professional goals but also of who they are as people. This fundamental connection can bolster employees’ commitment to the firm and help drive retention in a competitive talent market.
In addition to understanding, authenticity is critical to establishing trust. Financial services firms hire smart, perceptive people—most of them should have no trouble seeing through false promises and phony commitments. As interest in corporate social responsibility increases, firms need to be transparent in displaying their public commitments to causes like ESG investing and equal pay. In tandem, those actions must align with the organization’s day-to-day commitments to employees.
3. Embrace flexibility to make the most of remote working environments.
With so many professionals working remotely all or part of the time, almost everyone has become familiar with both the advantages and the downsides of these arrangements. Particularly for employees who are still early in their careers, opportunities to take advantage of open-door policies or spontaneously chat with senior leaders are few and far between outside of a traditional office. As a result, leaders need to invest time in fostering a culture of excellence that supports team members at all levels—no matter where they sit.
Fortunately, there are ways to leverage a flexible working environment to strengthen teams and ensure that everyone has access to professional development and growth opportunities. Instead of stopping to chat with whichever colleagues they happen to pass in the hallway or the lunchroom, CEOs can schedule time to meet with junior professionals with whom they might not otherwise have the chance to interact frequently.
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