Financial Planning

Congress 2019: Stepping out of the comfort zone

30 July 2019

Jayson Forrest

Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.

Tim Reid explores what it means to be a leader adapting to challenges and change.

Is leadership a skill you are born with or is it a skill you can learn over time?

“That’s the $64 million question,” says Tim Reid – a business marketing specialist and the founder and host of the marketing podcast – The Small Business Big Marketing Show.

“I think certain people are definitely born with the characteristics that make them natural leaders. These are things like emotional intelligence – more so than intellectual intelligence – as well as drive, tenacity and personality.”

But under the right conditions and tutorage, Tim believes leadership is a skill that can be learnt.

 “Leaders can be developed,” he says. “In my corporate days, I was a great worker but I had great leaders. They proved to be excellent role models who subsequently enabled me to become a leader in my own right. So, clearly, it’s a skill that can be taught for individuals who have the right aptitude.”

Adapting to change

Tim will be facilitating a panel discussion at this year’s FPA Professionals Congress, where three amazing Australians will share their personal stories of how they have adapted to challenges and change as business leaders.

 The panel will include Dr Catriona Wallace, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of FlamingoAi, as well as Simon Costa, who led the largest horticulture company (Costa Group) in the southern hemisphere, until becoming the Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. And the third panelist is the former CEO of Swisse multi-vitamins, Radek Sali, who was instrumental in selling the Swisse brand for an impressive $1.67 billion.

“These three inspiring individuals know a thing or two about successfully leading a company,” Tim says. “They will share how they have adapted to challenges and change, both personally and professionally, and how they have excelled and improved as a result of these experiences.” 

In fact, Tim finds the topic of ‘leadership’ an interesting one.

“Leadership is absolutely essential, particularly during times of change,” he says. “People look to leaders to guide them in their actions and get the job done. They are the ones we turn to as role models, motivators, and to provide us with confidence and support when needed.”

As the three panel participants will reveal, good leadership translates into long-term success.

 “They are the type of leaders who provide organisations with high morale, direction and purpose, and a great culture. In all the leaders I’ve worked with, one of their great skill sets is the ability to build an amazing culture that people want to be a part of. So, it’s easy to see that great leadership leads to high employee attraction and retention.”

Tim firmly believes that every leader has a unique style that is influenced by their personality, beliefs, core values and the challenges they face, which will be evident as he interviews his panel participants.

“So, if you ask me what makes a good leader, I’d say that empathy is hugely important, as well as  understanding their team’s strengths and weaknesses. And obviously a good leader needs to be inspiring, decisive, confident – without being cocky – focused and optimistic,” he says. “And Catriona, Simon and Radek have that in spades.

“They are the ‘glass half full’ type of individuals, who see opportunities, rather than obstacles, which is what you want in a good leader.”  

Comfort zone

As part of the panel discussion, the participants will also explain how they have stepped out of their comfort zones by adapting to, and embracing, change.

So, what advice does Tim have for planners as they confront their own challenges and change head-on?

“The environment that planners will be operating in from this year and beyond will be full of change. But change isn’t just happening in the financial services sector. There are many industries also going through change, whether it’s regulatory or technology driven.

“And while some planners might not want to ‘rock the boat’ in the face of change, preferring instead to take a more conservative approach to running their businesses, I would argue that the magic happens outride of the comfort zone. You can choose to sit comfortably and watch change go by, or you can step outside your comfort zone, even if it’s occasionally, and actually embrace change and go with it. After all, change is like fighting against the tide, you’re never going to win.”

Whether it’s regulation, technology, compliance or even client expectations, Tim advises planners to embrace change, even if that means taking on an 80/20 position. 

“By taking on an 80/20 position, it means that for 20 per cent of the time, you step outside your comfort zone, embrace change and try something new. For example, that could mean trying some new technology. 

And while Tim concedes that change is challenging, he questions: “What’s the alternative? To do nothing? To stagnate?

“The simple fact is change happens, so get used to it. We all need to embrace the challenges of change or risk being left behind.”

Tim Reid is a panel facilitator at the 2019 FPA Professionals Congress in Melbourne (27-29 November). For more information on the Congress program or to register your attendance, click here.