National Marketing Director Daniela Dubach shares how to create a positive, productive team culture and why it’s important to your success.Every person has a leadership style. For some, it emerges early in life. But for others, it blooms gradually when they begin to recognize, develop and focus on their strengths.
Growing the Leader withinIn the earlier years of my life, I never saw myself as a leader. I was extremely shy and lacked self-confidence, so much so that I was afraid to speak in front of others. Looking back, First Financial Security, Inc. and the opportunity they offered impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It gave me a platform that empowered me and allowed me to believe in myself and what I could accomplish. I gained the confidence to expand my vision into something so much bigger, which wasn’t always easy. I had to be willing to push the boundaries of my comfort zone, which I still do. For instance, dealing with different personalities, learning how to effectively manage them, and keeping drama to a minimum are difficult. Maintaining balance among my career, personal and spiritual lives can be a challenge, especially during the year’s busier times. I still feel that these are opportunities to grow, learn, and to stretch myself and my vision. It’s not only when things are going well that these opportunities present themselves.
The Importance of Team CultureI love the diversity of our team (EFC Javier Rodriguez’ Crusaders) and what it lends to our team culture. Different backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs make our team strong and open-minded. I’m proud to say that there’s an amazing amount of synergy, support, and encouragement among this diverse group’s leaders. We often rely on each other for help. Associates are eager and willing to learn not only the business, but also how to grow personally and professionally. Creating a Team Culture If you don’t think your team has a “team culture,” you’re mistaken. Your team has a culture whether you like it or not, and it’s defined by what you tolerate. You need to be intentional about nurturing the culture you specifically want or a not so favorable alternative will emerge. I make a conscious effort every day to encourage a positive environment. I value everyone on our team because everyone contributes to our success. If your team feels valued and appreciated it creates loyalty, positivity, the desire to work harder and to achieve more. It encourages them to work together as a team. It’s amazing what people are capable of and willing to do when they feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. I always celebrate team members and thank them publicly for even the smallest contributions or achievements. I invite a potential leader to join our leadership team. I regularly conduct strategy sessions with team members who are serious and have the will to do what it takes. These are just some examples, but they go a long way in terms of motivation.
Teamwork Leaves No Room for DramaEncouraging teamwork is another way to foster a positive, productive team culture … and when you have a positive, productive team culture, it encourages teamwork. Our team leans on each other often. We practice scripts together, help with training, run contests, and discuss improvements we need to make, to name a few. Regardless of where they contribute in the process, everyone can take credit for the success of our team Having a positive work environment that values teamwork, however, doesn’t mean there’s never any conflict. That’s simply unavoidable. We strive for a drama-free work zone, but if conflict does arise, we address it quickly so it doesn’t fester. I find it most effective to do a round table discussion with those involved, but most definitely behind closed doors. I follow the golden rule, “praise in public, punish in private.” It’s worked extremely well for our team.
Key to SuccessOnly during the last two years have I shifted to team building and duplicating what I have learned. I’ve realized that it's not about me; It's about helping other people to personally grow and become successful. I invest a lot of resources and time into developing associates. This contributes to the loyalty and empowerment of a positive, productive team culture. Our office is a place where people want to belong and feel appreciated, maybe for the first time in their careers. That’s something to be excited about. I lead by example. Everything I encourage them to do, I've done myself. I truly feel that decision was a turning point in my career. My advice to other leaders in FFS?
- Establish clear goals for yourself and the team and hold yourself and the team accountable.
- Lead by example and create a positive and productive team culture.
- Keep drama out of the workplace and establish group norms that center around conduct and respect.
- Appreciate and recognize your team members. Make sure they know that they matter to you and to the rest of the team.
About the Author:Daniela Dubach is one of the leading innovators of the next generation of FFS leaders. As a Champions Club member, she has built a strong and successful business through her great capability to lead and train. Daniela spends a lot of her time assisting those in need of financial security for their future in the school and law enforcement
Jak Horakunwetchana is a strong supporter of developing and continually pushing his agents to become more and more independent. At the same time, he makes sure they’re not afraid to fail. This is how he maintains balance in leadership.A key strategy for building a business with First Financial Security (FFS) is to develop a productive team of leaders. To accomplish this, I start by being a servant leader. Then, I mentor teammates, so they can duplicate my efforts.
It is definitely a balance in leadership that I work hard to maintain. Both of these tasks are equally important to the overall performance and growth of the team.
People often ask me which qualities do teammates demonstrate that show they have the potential to become strong leaders. Some of these qualities can be developed, such as technical knowledge and improved communication skills.
There are several core qualities that I believe potential leaders must already possess:
- Willingness to be coached
- A strong work ethic
These are all key components to being a successful leader in our business.
Training a Leader
When I find a leader with these qualities, I invest my time teaching them the FFS Business Building System (BBS). The BBS provides a step-by-step guide that directs people through all areas of our business.
The key for me is spending time discussing the system’s details, so they understand the importance of following it precisely. The more closely they follow the system, the quicker my new leader can start running their own meetings.
As builders, we need to embrace the challenges that an entrepreneur faces with the understanding that they will make mistakes. The key is to grow from those experiences. It’s a foolproof learning system that is unique to each individual.
I am a strong supporter of developing and continually pushing my agents to become more and more independent. I believe in getting them out there to apply what they’ve learned. At the same time, I make sure they’re not afraid to fail. They always have my support and the support of our entire team.
I did say there is a balance between developing my leaders and serving my team that I like to maintain. Every day differs, though, because my team’s needs vary.
My daily routine includes monitoring the back office for team production and contest standings. I review any team emails, text messages, or social media. I’m continually returning calls throughout the day and am on standby for a leader call. I also hold meetings to share updates and training to ensure we’re all on the same page.
That’s about all that’s standard, though. When it comes to support and development it’s much less structured.
Balancing my time depends on the maturity level of the leaders and agents with whom I’m working. Experienced leaders require a different level of support than new recruits. While recruits need more training and development to get started, producing agents require more time to get policies issued. New leaders need guidance on developing a strategy to help build their teams.
What’s most Important?
We have a limited amount of time each day to take care of business and personal needs.
What I’ve learned is that you need to prioritize your time, or you won’t be able to optimize your results.You also have to be able to balance your personal time with your business responsibilities. Life is short; balance is the key to success in almost everything you do. I communicate that to my team through my words and my actions.
Do as I Do
I’m also a role model for my team at all times, whether I’m in a servant leader or leadership development role. I think it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your business.
You earn the trust and the respect of your teammates and, in turn, they want to follow your example. I would never ask my agents to do something I wouldn’t do or haven’t done myself. So, when I challenge my agents to move outside of their comfort zone, they know I’ve been there too.
I want to empower them with all that I know and help them grow their businesses. It’s important that they know I will always be by their side for support and guidance.
One of the biggest hurdles to team building is the leader who says they have no time to develop associates. They can’t spare the time to invest in grooming leaders. At the same time, they find that they can’t effectively lead the entire team on their own.
They won’t find any relief until they consciously make the time to address the roadblock. Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Dedicate the time to find balance. If you do, you’ll see a dramatic change in the growth of your team and the success of your associates.
Meet the Author: Jak Horakunwetchana
Jakarat Horakunwetchana came to the United States from Thailand after graduating from high school in 1995. Knowing little English and with no money, Jak supported himself through college by working full time at restaurants in Florida and Georgia. In 2002, Jak graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Prior to joining First Financial Security in 2011 as a part-time representative, Jak worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant while he was studying for his Masters degree. He also was involved with a start-up automotive plant and worked as a Quality Engineer for several years.
Today, Jak is full time with First Financial Security as a National Marketing Director. He is a member of FFS’ prestigious Champions Club for representatives earning more $100,000 in a rolling 12 months. Jak leads teams in Georgia, Florida, as well as North and South Carolina.
Did you know your financial health may affect your business success? First Financial Security leader Amy Nitao shares tips to financial savviness.If you ask 10 people to define financial savviness, you’ll likely to get 10 different answers. It was an important question for me to answer for myself. I believe financial savviness is the core reason for my success here at FFS.
My definition of practical know-how is linked to our company’s vision to help all people achieve financial security and peace of mind. You must be able to confidently guide your clients down the path to a more secure financial future.Practice what You Preach
As a leader, the way to help others to manage their financial health is to have already experienced the challenges, failures and successes yourself. We must practice what we preach. If we want to be trusted with other people’s finances, we must be diligent, careful and strategic with our own.
Would you hire an actor to be the CEO of your business? No, you’d hire a proven, experienced, and qualified candidate who will guide your company in the right direction. The same applies in our business. We must be financially savvy and share that information with our clients. By applying it to our own lives, we can serve as a trusted role model.Your Actions Speak Loudly
I gained a reputation for being financially savvy years ago, but that’s only because it’s part of my everyday life. For example, my friends would come to visit us in California and want to visit Disneyland, but we’d never pay full price. I knew where to find discount tickets! I’m always showing people that I know how to manage my money well and protect my family’s finances. Ask any of them and they would say, “Yes, I would trust her with my money.”
If you’re grappling with debt and wasteful with your money, you’re sending the message that you’ll probably be just as careless with someone else’s money.Set Goals
In our business, it’s also critical to set goals. My first goal was to qualify for the FFS Dream Destination Conference trip to Puerto Rico. But, more than that, I wanted to earn a suite.
I shared this goal with my team because I wanted to be held accountable. Within three months of joining FFS – before my first Jump Start meeting - I achieved it. I set short- and long-term goals and once I reached them, I set new ones. I’m never done.
Our financial goals are important because they are our everyday GPS. They guide our decisions and our plans, reminding us of what we’re working toward. More importantly, they help us to not lose sight of the important achievements we’ve set for ourselves and our family. We want peace of mind not only for our generation, but hopefully for many more of generations to come.
Once you’ve set your goals, they don’t go in a drawer only to be looked at again in six months. Put an action plan together and review it weekly or bi-weekly.
I have a conversation with my husband on the 1st and the 15th of every month. We discuss our budget, which helps us manage our spending, savings and charitable donations for the month. We know what we have and we live within our means. If you don’t know how much you have, how can you possibly know much or little is available to spend? That’s where you run into trouble.
Make a pact with your partner to communicate the successes and the challenges along the way. When you know what you’re working toward, there’s a stronger focus. When you have someone working with you, there’s always more encouragement, motivation, and support.Keep Moving Forward
It doesn’t happen overnight, but I can tell you that it can happen. I am living proof. It takes time, dedication, patience, failures and successes. The important thing is that you pick yourself up and keep going – and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your financial health will benefit, your clients will benefit, and your business will benefit.About the Author:
As one of FFS’ top producers, Amy Nitao has earned FFS’ Success Society, 75K Club, and Champions Club. In fact, she attained her spot in Champions Club more quickly than any other associate to date. Amy passed the $100,000 cash flow mark less than a year after joining First Financial Security. When asked what spurs her on to these incredible milestones, Amy replied, “Love for my family.”
Whether it’s training, insightful speeches, or a chance to address important issues, attending FFS events provides valuable takeaways.
FFS events play an important role in a successful corporate culture. They provide time for networking and to confer about business trends. They’re ideal for face-to-face and interactive training. For First Financial Security, Inc., company events offer the best way to push out news and updates to a large group.
Financial services organizations host events throughout the year to motivate, inform and continually educate their producers. Investing in your field force benefits everyone involved – the company, the independent business owner and the field associate. The key is pursuing these opportunities. As a business owner, you need to lead by example. Not only do you need to attend, but your team should be at as many events as they can. The secret to your team’s success is getting them to these company-sponsored events.
We met with First Financial Security Field Vice Presidents, Keng Thao and Zoua Vang. The power couple was eager to discuss how they use FFS events to grow their business and develop their teammates. Keng and Zoua’s success was recognized at FFS’ Leaders Convention 2016 (LC16) in Las Vegas. There, they received a Director of Motivation award for bringing the most, new associates to the event. They know how vital attending these events is to driving performance.
Together, Keng and Zoua work closely with their team to maximize each event. “We strongly believe that we’re in the business of building and motivating people,” said Keng. “The best way to stretch their thinking and build confidence is through events that inspire and challenge them.”
“When they see someone like themselves rewarded for their success, they believe that they can do it, too,” said Zoua.
Competition and Recognition
Using competition in business in a healthy way encourages people to work harder and achieve more. It’s not always about money. Many people are more motivated by recognition.
“When people know they’ll be recognized for their success, they’ll fight harder for it,” said Keng. “We direct our team to focus on one goal for each event, and fight to get on that stage. A healthy rivalry spurs growth, and without it, we’d lose our drive. Our business would die a little each day.”
Allowing top leaders to shine on stage is important to the process. It serves as an incentive to others to work to attain the same status. “It’s an incredible feeling when you’re up there on that big stage,” said Zoua. “Everyone should have the chance to experience that moment.”
Among the valuable benefits of attending an FFS event are:
- Know you’re a part of something bigger.
- Enjoy the fellowship at the meetings.
- Draw on the energy from the crowds.
- Share challenges and successes with others.
- Learn from others.
This chance to network with fellow leaders from across the country cannot be replicated through a conference call or webinar.
Keng and Zoua work hard to motivate their team. But, they agree sometimes the team needs someone other than themselves to inspire and encourage. Attitudes change for the better when teammates hear from or interact with other leaders. “After each event, our entire team leaves believing that we can accomplish so much more,” said Zoua. “We feel unstoppable. We want that from every event and for every person on our team.”
Today, Zoua and Keng have a team of more than 3,300 coded agents. What’s their secret to building a successful and engaged team? “One of our primary goals is to move these agents to the FFS events,” said Keng. “That’s where they get the best picture of what FFS is about and it fires them up!
“We urge our team to attend company events because they remind us that we’re here as a team,” explains Keng. “We have goals to achieve and a company full of people that stand behind us and want us to succeed.”
Whether it’s training, listening to insightful speeches, or addressing issues important to the field, FFS events provide valuable takeaways. It’s vital that associates are present and engaged during event sessions because it’s an experience that can’t be matched. Keng and Zoua are proof that a strong team presence at company events can lead to successful team building and performance.
Keng and Zoua are committed to bringing even more associates to Jump Start 2017 than they did to LC16. How many team members will you bring?
First Financial Security, Inc.’s Director of Performance, Dave Wild, shares insights into how you can jumpstart business performance and create a new wave of growth in your team.
What’s the difference between training and coaching in business? Most people would say that they were the same idea, or at least very similar.
You provide your new agents with knowledge of products and processes, so that they can go out on their own and build their own business. “If you have any questions or run into any stumbling blocks, come back and I’ll show you how to handle them.” Sound familiar?
In all my years as a business performance coach to up-and-coming leaders and a builder of businesses, I’ve never witnessed that approach lead to any significant level of success, mostly because, in that scenario, there is no coaching being done.
Training vs. Coaching
Training is instruction about products and processes. Coaching is a completely separate step that can only be entered into after the instruction step is successfully completed and the agent has mastered the information. The steps cannot be combined and one will not produce the results you’re looking for without the other. Because they build upon one another, sometimes an agent has to take a step back to relearn what he’s missed – and that’s critical.
If an agent doesn’t have the base knowledge, he cannot be coached.
Lack of knowledge, however, isn’t always the issue when it comes to identifying the root of underperformance. So much of the time people think training is the solution when, actually, the agent is in need of coaching and the accountability that comes with it. The tendency is to go back to the basics, but if your agent understands the product material, there’s no need to reteach it. It may just be the act of applying the process – the how and the why – that’s in need of attention. That’s where coaching comes in and that’s where the growth and business performance excellence takes place.
Self-discovery Is the Key
Taking your agent to the next level is all about self-discovery. The objective of coaching is not to solve your agent’s dilemma, or fix the problem. As a business performance coach, you need to ask the right questions so that he learns to discover the answers himself. You simply guide the way. The challenge is having enough patience and discipline to stay the course and not hand over the answer. In the short term it’s more time consuming, but if you can look long term, it will be beneficial to both of you and absolutely critical to the overall success of your team.
I’ve heard frustration voiced from so many leaders who say they aren’t able to take their team to the next level because ‘they’re too busy solving problems with their current agents.” This is exactly why teams reach a certain point of success and then seem to plateau. The leader is stretched to the limit. By positioning yourself – whether intentionally or not – as the focal point of your team, and not cultivating any other leaders within your team, you’re putting limits on your potential success. Although you may think you’re helping your team … it’s quicker for me to show them, it’s more efficient for me to answer, it’s easier for me to just do it, you’re actually holding your agents back and putting your team at a disadvantage. A strategic coaching program could breathe new life into this team and jumpstart a new wave of growth.
As a leader, you need to actively work on replicating yourself. Develop leaders who are as smart and as capable as you through coaching and you could bring remarkable depth to your team. Your agents will be able to solve problems on their own and answer their own questions. They’ll be a resource for new agents and serve as coaches for potential leaders. You’ll find more time to grow other areas of your business, and your team will thrive. Imagine multiple leaders just like you and what you could accomplish together. With time, patience, and coaching, it can be done!
Coaching is not the secret to business performance excellence, but it’s a critical part of being set up for success. Training is the first step, but if you stop there, you’ve given up half way through the process. Without self-discovery and accountability, agents will never answer the tough questions to gain the confidence and self-assuredness to be successful. Make coaching a priority and you’ll be introduced to unlimited growth potential and a new, game-changing approach to your business.