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Want corporate growth? Look to your people first and ask 3 questions

January 21, 2021
clock 4 MIN READ

People drive value, not companies. Companies may organize human capital and processes, but it’s the people who truly drive value creation. As we begin a new year and think about new ways to pursue growth, maybe we should talk to our teams. Engage them in conversations about innovation and growth. Ask for their ideas, thoughts and concerns. As leaders, we need to provide an environment where people feel comfortable challenging the status quo and have the courage to take risks. We need to set high standards, but more importantly, we need to provide unwavering support to our employees as they pursue these new ideas. At SEI, we focus on providing an atmosphere where people feel comfortable bringing their “whole self” to work.  We use Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment to help people understand and explore their unique strengths. We support our teams with coaching to bring these strengths to life to help us drive value for our clients. Lisa Penn is the leader of our coaching program. She also happens to be a personal friend and my coach. Lisa has some ideas on how we can engage our teams in growth and she shares those thoughts with us this week. 

By: Lisa Penn

Very often, during strategic growth sessions, the emphasis is on current services, clients, solutions, and how to get new ones or add to what we have, in order to GROW? This is a good place to start for sure. But, what if you started a little bit differently? 

What if you looked to your own team/colleagues — and yourself — and asked each person to consider 3 vital questions:

  1. “What can I start doing to create or support growth in the company? (Challenge those mental models).
  2. “What small shifts can I incorporate into my daily actions to create or support growth in the company?” (Never underestimate the power of small changes).
  3. “What should I stop doing to contribute to additional growth?” (What do I leave out of my current process or my approach to work/people?)      

Companies grow in concert with the growth of their people. Plain and simple.  

The system doesn’t come up with new services to sell, a new market unit doesn’t fall from the sky, a new app just doesn’t show up by itself on your phone. All of this happens because of someone or some team.   

How do you unleash this potential for this growth in others and yourself? Here at SEI, we subscribe to a strengths-based philosophy about our people. We honor their individual talents and strengths. We use the Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment to help our colleagues discover their top 5 talents. This information affirms each person’s uniqueness, value and impact. It supports our people as a critical part of our company’s success.   

If you have taken the assessment and already know your top 5 talents, take another long look at them. Ask yourself the above 3 questions again, even if you have not taken the assessment. Or, have a colleague ask you these questions, so you can state out loud how you can contribute to growth.   

If you are a leader of a team, ask each person to answer these questions as they keep their top 5 talents in mind. Really challenge your team and yourself to look at growth through YOUR individual eyes first.

Listen to the answers — really listen. You just may hear some ideas that will support corporate growth from your biggest asset — your people.

And did question number 3 cause you to pause? Good — it should. Sometimes we thwart growth in ourselves and others. What should we leave out to move forward? For example, should you leave out old thinking of how to conduct prospect meetings? Maybe you should let go of a planning approach that has been “just the way we do it” without question for years. Or perhaps you need to let go of limiting a working group to a number of people and focus instead on the talent, strength and value certain individuals bring to the table? This topic could be its on blog post and I look forward to coming back to Front and Centered to share more.       

The bottom line is this — if you want your firm to grow, let’s keep it simple. Start with your people and yourself.

Albert Chiaradonna

Executive Vice President, SEI Global Private Banking

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