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Profile in Courage

The financial services profession can be unpredictable and challenging — even in the best of times.

Award-winning resilience expert Heidi Dening acknowledges that advisors have had to change the way they have always done things recently because of circumstances around the pandemic, but even before that, working in the financial services profession is full of uncertainties from the ever-fluctuating markets. “They’re forever having to adapt,” she said, noting that both courage and self-leadership are needed to push forward.

“It takes a huge amount of courage to be able to wake up every day and think, What does today look like? What do I have to do differently? How am I going to continue to succeed? rather than get paralyzed with fear or procrastinating because it’s hard and overwhelming,” she said.

Heidi identified five different types of courage in business: physical, social, intellectual, moral and emotional. Understanding each type will help professionals fine-tune their leadership skills and abilities.

Physical courage

Physical courage probably first comes to mind when you hear the word courage. It involves bravery, much like that shown by first responders. For them, the skill comes naturally; however, those in the financial services profession rarely have to express this form of courage.

Social courage

When you are showing social courage, you are risking social exclusion and rejection by your peers. To have social courage in a business means you’ve got to make the best decisions based on the fact that they’re the best decisions, not because you’re going to be the most popular in the group.

Moral courage

Moral courage means standing up for what you believe in. Those who have moral courage let their actions speak louder than their words and are often viewed as role models. This type of courage can arise when making hiring decisions. Sometimes people are very technically skilled, and we know they’re going to get a lot of sales for us, but they might not fit the culture of the organization.

Intellectual courage

Intellectual courage is all about thinking outside the box and going against the status quo. It’s not about doing what we’ve done before because that just works. It’s about thinking differently about how to attract new people and nurture relationships. This skill is particularly useful now, as the world has changed drastically and will continue to do so. It is rare that one can rise to a position of leadership without intellectual courage.

Emotional courage

Emotional courage refers to one’s ability to embrace how they feel about things and having a willingness to be vulnerable, speak the truth and have pride in that. Historically, the world has admired stoic leaders, but now there’s a shift towards more emotive leadership as a positive step forward. It’s not saying that they’re less of a human, less of a leader or less of a colleague. It means they’re courageous enough to say, ‘I need to be honest with you — I’m finding it tough‘.

With a good grasp of courage in all its forms, it’s time to work on self-leadership skills. “Self-leadership is all about sitting in the driver’s seat of your life and making decisions on a daily basis that will keep you moving toward what you believe is a bright future for yourself,” Dening explained. To be a talented leader and attract a good team, you must first be a talented self-leader. Embracing self-leadership strategies will help you to move away from a place of fear and instead allow you to build resiliency so that you can be strategic about any challenges you may face as opposed to simply reacting to them.

Prioritizing self-leadership and building resilience allows you to cope better with stress, adapt more to change, embrace an optimistic attitude and find the courage to be fallible. Creating a resiliency plan supports you while you navigate the uncertainty in the world of financial services.

Planning for resilience – Resiliency Development Plan

Use Heidi Dening’s resilience scorecard to gauge your current level of resilience. Once you have this understanding, you can tackle the five components of your Resiliency Development Plan.

1. Why resilience is important to your professional life

Building your resilience ensures you can exceed professional targets by improving your creativity and tenacity, and juggle the various responsibilities across your professional and personal lives with more ease.

2. Name it to tame it

What are the challenges in your life that make it hard for you to prioritize resilience-building activities? For example, you may be caring for ageing parents or small children.

3. Acknowledge the good

What are the good habits you already have in place? For example, think of afternoon walks or continual learning.

4. Identify blind spots

What do you need to stop doing? For example, scrolling social media late into the night or snacking daily on high-sugar foods.

5. Follow the Resilience Bucket Formula

Leadership is hard when you are not physically and mentally at your best. Here is a five-part formula that you should include in your life to make sure that your resilience bucket stays strong and sturdy, so you have the confidence and ability to keep moving forward during tough times.

  • Daily: Be still for 10 minutes per day.
  • Weekly: Find joy for one hour per week.
  • Monthly: Chill out for one day per month.
  • Quarterly: Live life for one long weekend per quarter.
  • Continuously: Connect more with people who bring a smile to your face, some warmth to your heart and some wisdom to your brain.

This article was originally published by MDRT – Profile in courage: Assess and improve your ability to succeed during times of change.

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