Three main ingredients in a mostly secret sauce.
“When you bring your authentic self, people trust you, and trust is at the heart of any successful relationship,” said Carla Harris, vice chairman of global wealth management for Morgan Stanley.
As a senior client advisor, as well as a gospel recording artist in her spare time, Harris has spent much of the pandemic drawing on her authenticity to inspire others to keep the faith.
“When we went into this shelter-in-place environment, I started hearing from leaders from all over the world, asking me questions such as ‘How do I lead in this moment?’ and ‘How do I stay engaged with my clients in this moment?’ she said. “I answered, ‘At a minimum, if you are a powerful, impactful, influential leader, you must do three things: You must be visible; you must be transparent; and you must be empathetic.’”
- Visibility is important because it projects strength during times of uncertainty. People know there is someone helming the captain’s chair during scary situations. However, Harris goes one step farther, equating visibility with accessibility. Leaders need to make time to connect with the people they lead. Harris considers meetings via technology to be a poor substitute for in-room meetings, but she nevertheless calls it a powerful and personal way to offer reassurance.
- But reassurance only goes so far before it becomes inauthentic. Harris said leaders need to be transparent during uncertain situations, or even when they know bad news is about to drop.
“When you are in financial services, you are privy to lots of information that people in other industries do not have,” she said. “Being able to share that information with your clients and your teams is a measure of transparency that is highly valued. That transparency underscores your authenticity.”
- Finally, leaders must be empathetic. Let other people unburden themselves and try to listen with understanding. They will walk away feeling better knowing they have a confidant in their leader. Harris stretches the definition of empathy further. To make it authentic, be generous. Share lessons from situations in your own life where appropriate.
“Now is not the time to behave as if the pandemic is not impacting you. Now is the time to say, ‘Let me tell you how I’m managing it.’ Sharing the methods you have used also builds the relationships.”
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