Most advisors we work with are eager to grow. But many find themselves unable to do so. One of the most common reasons is because they haven’t truly made that transition from practitioner to practice leader.
This is a lesson I learned myself early on in my practice. The moment when it finally clicked for me was when I had the opportunity to do my first major acquisition. The new practice was located an hour and a half away. For me to onboard the practice in my usual manner would require a daily round trip commute of three hours, which would take me away from my family and my main practice. I realized that to successfully on board this practice and also continue to grow, I would need to plug in capable people that I could trust to do the work and lead them to success, instead of me doing the work all by myself.
Growth is often a function of capacity. If you are still trying to do everything in the practice, you won’t be able to grow. This is exactly the realization I came to when facing that new opportunity. For me to take advantage of this acquisition, and future acquisitions, I needed to change my role in the organization and bring in quality people to help me run it. I had to learn to step away from being the “advisor” and handling all of the duties that go with that role and move toward a new position with new responsibilities. A practice leader serves to set the strategic direction for the practice, to guide and manage the team, and to create large scale opportunities for the firm. They are not in the weeds of daily operations. Instead they serve in a highly strategic capacity.
Another way of making the distinction from practitioner to practice leader is to think of it as moving away from working “in” the business to working “on” the business. When you are working in the business you are meeting with every single client, developing financial plans, processing paperwork, handling HR matters, etc. When you are working on the business, your time instead is spent on building professional alliances, identifying and transitioning acquisition opportunities, developing the culture of the practice, and other high-level activities.
The move from practitioner to practice leader doesn’t happen overnight. When you first start transitioning you will still need to work in the business but overtime the amount of your energy spent working in the businesses lessens while the amount of time you spend working on the business grows. My role is continually changing and evolving as my practice grows. Each evolution requires a new paradigm and a new way of doing things so that I can continue to scale and move toward that next opportunity.
The goal of a leader is to train and develop capable people to replace him or her. If your organization will die without you, it’s not a real, sustainable business anyway. If you’re practice is growing and you are still heavily involved in the day to day operations, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your role and responsibilities. What activities truly require your attention and which ones can you hand off to your team? Do you have quality people in place who can take on more responsibilities, or do you need to hire and train someone? Constantly ask yourself these questions and be willing to shed the old role and title to assume an even greater role in your practice. It’s the first step toward achieving quantum growth.