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3 lessons in team building advisers can learn from the San Antonio Spurs

Recruiting fresh talent and utilizing your team's strongest attributes can set firms up for success

Jul 3, 2014 @ 9:43 am

By Brad Johnson

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The focus of the sporting world has quickly shifted to the World Cup, but I believe there are some valuable takeaways from another recent sporting event: the San Antonio Spurs' dismantling of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The key to the Spurs' victory was how each team member played within their role and stepped up when it was their time to contribute.

Here are three things every financial adviser can learn from the San Antonio Spurs when assembling an all-star supporting cast:

The focus of the sporting world has quickly shifted to the World Cup, but I believe there are some valuable takeaways from another recent sporting event: the San Antonio Spurs' dismantling of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The key to the Spurs' victory was how each team member played within their role and stepped up when it was their time to contribute.

Here are three things every financial adviser can learn from the San Antonio Spurs when assembling an all-star supporting cast:

1. The team is always greater than its parts.

The Miami Heat are known for the “Big 3” — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But as the Spurs demonstrated, a team that is well-rounded, assembled to complement each other's strengths and weaknesses and well-coached will always have an edge. The Spurs had eight players who averaged over eight points a game all season long. Even on a night when one of their best players was struggling, they could rely on a key performance from a bench player to pull them through.

This same concept applies in the financial advising world. When assembling your team, make sure to utilize personality assessment tests like the Kolbe to make sure the strengths of each team member complement the weaknesses of others. Also, don't be afraid to hire someone with all-star talent even if you aren't quite ready for them, as it's better than the alternative of them not being around when you do!

2. ABR (Always Be Recruiting).

As Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills became household names during the Finals, it was clear this team was not the same San Antonio Spurs that won a championship for the first time in 1999, with David Robinson and a young Tim Duncan as its core. The Spurs' front office has invested much time into finding and recruiting new talent from all over the world to maintain their winning edge.

At the same time, the recruitment of new and up-and-coming talent is key to keeping your office invigorated with fresh energy. Everyone has heard the phrase “slow to hire, quick to fire.” I often see the exact opposite in the financial advisory world. An adviser team may know they have an underperformer or two, but they tend to think they can fix them. I've rarely seen this work. Take a lesson from the Spurs and make sure you are constantly investing in new talent.

3. A good game plan always trumps pure talent.

As Gregg Popovich has proven through his string of five championships with the Spurs, having a game plan that focuses on teamwork always pays off.

“The things most people think are selfish, we don't think in those terms, like somebody shoots too much. If I was supposed to be the weak side helping and I didn't come to help my teammates, I'm selfish. Those sorts of things, the purity of the game. The whole game is predicated on players playing for each other, feeling the responsibility for each other and performing.” — Gregg Popovich

This same concept applies directly to your business. Even the very best salespeople (think advisers with LeBron James or Dwyane Wade-level talent) need “weak side help,” as success in business can lead to getting bogged down with paperwork. The top-performing financial advising offices in the country focus on a team approach that allows their advisers to do what they do best — meet with clients. Without a solid team backing you, it's difficult to focus on revenue-producing activities and often “hourly wage” tasks can creep onto your calendar, causing your business to plateau.

In summary, strive to build an all-star team by constantly recruiting fresh talent and creating a great game plan that focuses on utilizing your team's strongest attributes. Doing so will get you well on your way to building a championship-caliber practice.

Brad Johnson is a vice president at Advisors Excel and can be reached at: brad.johnson@advisorsexcel.com.

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