Level up your leadership with some upfront advice from an executive coach.

Leadership. It’s about taking people with you to a new destination, getting them moving and showing what’s possible.

It takes time, vision and confidence. Something everyone at the top has by the bucketful, right?

Um, well no actually.

Only 12% of top executives think their leaders have the right mindsets to lead them forward. Awkward.

But they might have hit a nerve because two-thirds of CEOs admit to not having had any outside advice on their leadership skills, even though they probably should.

It’s been suggested that the financial services industry could be one of the most heavily impacted by ‘the great resignation’ because the industry is so desperately in need of effective leadership to take it forward in a world where people expect more from the companies they work for and with.

We’ve spoken before on the Upfront podcast about why the old ‘dinosaur’ style of leadership is no longer effective (listen to episode one: Out of the blue). There’s a new approach in town and it’s centred on empathy and inclusivity. If you or your leaders are blessed with those attributes either naturally or with the help of a professional coach, it’ll show through talent retention and commercial success.

And if you’re not? Well, we suggest you read on for some friendly outside advice from executive coach Jason Bernic. He joined the Upfront podcast for an inspiring and motivational chat about leadership in financial services (listen to the full episode) and shared some advice he uses to help his clients become better leaders.


As Jason told the Upfront podcast, leadership is so much more a way of being than a way of doing. Sorry psychopaths, one of the marks of good leadership now is empathy - being able to understand and share the feelings of others.

“Leaders of today have learnt over the years that screaming and shouting doesn’t work. Siding with or almost physically standing hip to hip or shoulder to shoulder with someone is far more effective than the way they used to do it years ago.”

And, says Jason, there’s another sign of great leadership that wasn’t a point of discussion even two decades ago.

“Empowering the other leaders or up-and-coming leaders of an organisation is incredibly powerful. Creating a culture that begins with leadership at the top and cascades down to the respective levels, so much so that the company or the business could create subcultures within it, that’s great leadership. I'm working with a very large business where they have an old leadership team, but they've also brought in new leadership and are sitting back and letting the new leadership do things in the right way. What they are doing for the business and ultimately as a result for the profession is incredible. There is diversification, there is empowerment, there is mentoring and coaching from all imaginable levels.”


When the pressure is on and you’re spinning plates, what do you do? Do you move the goal posts or crack on?

It’s a conversation Jason has a lot with financial planners and his answer is to always stick to your guns.

“When we get a lot thrown at us, our goals shouldn’t change - we just need to find different ways of going at those goals. That's pivoting, right? You move forward. You might have to go on your back foot and shift your angle but the goal remains. Why decrease the sales target by 50% because of what's happening in the world? You’ve got a business to run.”

When we get a lot thrown at us, our goals shouldn't change - we just need to find different ways of going at those goals.


Jason told the Upfront podcast that one of his biggest frustrations with the financial services profession is that it gets in the way of itself and people need to stop making time and admin an excuse.

“There is a lot of pressure on the profession but it’s all possible. It is so important to improve one’s relationship with time, improve one’s relationship with being busy and admin and just get out of your own way because that’s when the growth will happen.”

So what advice does he have to do that? Well, if you’re a financial planner, you might already be familiar with the approach.

“Good financial planners that follow a coaching approach with their clients will look at where their clients are, where they want to be and ask what’s possible. Financial planners and financial planning business owners also need to take a moment to step out and move back into their business and ask what’s possible.”


Whether you’re a C-suite executive, business owner, an entrepreneur always trying new things and taking risks, or a financial planner being pulled in lots of directions, Jason has some advice you need to hear.

“Slow down. Anyone that feels like they're under pressure so often feels like they need to speed up to keep up. That is the wrong thing to do. You need to slow it down. You need to be a sloth in an on-demand world. If you are trying to keep up with the pace of everything at the same time, you will dilute your efforts. But if you slow down and tackle one thing at a time with full focus and attention, then you'll deal with it and you’ll move on. You as a busy CEO need to slow this world down and focus because people and the business need you strategically, they need your insight, they need your perspective and they need your thoughts. You can't do that if you're running around like the Tasmanian devil."


Grit - a powerful mix of courage, perseverance, resilience and adaptability - is what got most of us through the worst bit of the pandemic and, according to Jason, sets the stage for anyone in leadership (and anyone with any kind of goal) to just keep going.

“During the lockdown, those financial planners that didn’t sit back and wait it out; those that continued to grow and adapt and find different ways of doing things, they did well.

There are so many financial planners and financial planning businesses that say they were the biggest two years they have ever had. Their income increased, their profitability increased, their assets under management increase increased, and they’ve got more of their best clients and now have a national or international footprint. Guess what? They looked at what was happening and saw an opportunity and that's perspective. That's character. That's drive.”

This positive go-getting mindset is what Jason aims to teach to his coaching clients.

“This is the mindset. You can fall prey or victim, or you can just grab it and go for it. We know that on the other side of any crisis is the opportunity to grow. We always come out okay. So we just have to have some optimism and keep going and going.”


A different type of leader will take financial services into the future. The challenges and pace of change in the industry have put great pressure and demands on its existing leadership, firmly separating the old school from the new. Those that will take the industry forward will have a different mindset and outlook than what we've seen before. Through mentoring and coaching, the next generation of financial services leaders has the potential to chart a new course for financial services. How exciting.

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