Article Featured In: CIO Magazine
Success has many different definitions. Mine is complex yet simple. I have always wrapped my business around my family. My path was deeply influenced by my father, a source of inspiration who instilled values such as flexibility, continuous learning, and adept problem-solving. And I cannot forget his helping anyone who needed it. These principles have been instrumental in shaping my career and leadership style.
When I founded 1706 Advisors over three decades ago, I made it a priority to understand every facet of the business. Understanding every role within the company has provided me with a comprehensive understanding, a crucial foundation for effective leadership. First, I understand what each job entails to give constructive criticism. Secondly, I can be crystal clear on the skillset needed for specific positions within the organization.
Leadership styles in running a business are a key component of success. Having a strong “boss” with a communicative style gives the team responsibility and the accountability to find solutions. I have always said, “I inspect what I expect.” I give tasks and projects after describing the details and then ask the team members to recite what task they have at hand. This gives us both an understanding of what happens next without wasting precious time. I believe in assigning tasks, encouraging questions, setting realistic deadlines, and emphasizing accountability. This culture of responsibility has been vital to my growth and the team, both professionally and personally.
The five (5) different leadership styles:
Looking at the qualities of each above, two stand out that describe my leadership styles. Firstly, I have always been a transformational leader, creating a space that breeds dreams but with a business plan to back it up. That lends itself to my second style, participative. I know that two brains are better than one. Throughout my career, I draw upon my associates, vendors, clients, and friends to find out how they have dealt with a specific task, personality, or hurdle that I need direction. The new information and weighing the old allows me to make decisions quickly.
Organizational qualities have allowed me to run a business, build a family, and continue growing a 35-year marriage. With so many balls in the air and each requiring focus and attention, organization is the only way to do that. The definition in Webster’s dictionary is: to put persons or things into their proper places in relation to each other. This is the perfect way to describe prioritizing the most important aspect of your life first, and then everything else will fall into place. Remember from above that I have and will always wrap my business around my personal life.
Identifying priorities is essential for any business to succeed. Experience has also shown us the importance of mental health advocacy, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era. Recognizing the direct impact of employee well-being on productivity, 1706 Advisors strongly emphasizes programs that foster positive mental, financial, and physical health. Also, we give our team tools to find solutions for themselves or their family members. We have implemented an additional program, without any copayment or cost to the employee, to find and use mental health services. I passionately believe that healthy employees are productive employees, and this approach has significantly contributed to the company’s dynamic growth.
Also, the shift to a remote work environment posed a significant challenge for me, given my familiarity with traditional office settings. I was worried about our team’s productivity. However, addressing this challenge prior to the pandemic was uneventful. Our tech addressed this challenge by implementing structured reporting activities through a ticketing system. The system tracked the task along with timekeeping. We then allocated an hourly cost to each function to calculate the cost of service. In finding discrepancies, we were then able to educate the next steps.
Collaboration times on a more formal basis began to be scheduled. This was not materially different from what we did when in our offices. We unplugged and plugged into our homes without missing a beat. I knew we could adapt quickly since we had always had strong reporting capabilities for management to do their job well. And creating time for continuing to grow our relationship with social times: monthly happy hour, chair yoga weekly, cooking classes, etc. This strategic approach ensures a robust and healthy work environment, fostering connectivity and maintaining ambitious standards.
Since we are now in a remote work environment, we have begun hiring team members from all over the country based on their skills. So again, it came down to inspecting what I expected through weekly reporting and conversations. The continuous touchpoints allow us to understand what the employee needs to get their job done well.
As you can imagine, having a team throughout the country must be managed tightly. The most challenging part, honestly, is managing a diverse team with varying motivations and goals. I have always tackled these hurdles by aligning individual aspirations with company objectives and values. This is a non-negotiable characteristic in growing our team.
1706 Advisors has achieved remarkable milestones with the leadership and focus of our C-suite. In 2023, the company received the Partner Firm of the Year award from United Benefit Advisors(UBA), recognizing organic growth and community involvement. The organization has helped us grow and become more sophisticated by learning from our peers. We joined five years ago to dig in, become involved, and give back. The second characteristic of the award that makes us proud. Additionally, we earned the prestigious 2023 Excellence In Customer Service Award from the Business Intelligence Group. The award highlights our commitment to exceptional service. I have always thought that it’s not the product you sell; the service you give keeps people coming back. We take service seriously. It is the promise we make and keep.
Looking ahead, I envision intense growth for 1706 Advisors, including geographical expansion. My forward-thinking approach positions the company for continued success in an ever-evolving business landscape. And, with the succession of the business to my daughters, Cara Kahan and Alana Kahan, old and new clients alike will always be taken care of.
Our commitment to excellence, innovation, and social responsibility inspired by familial values will continue to be our vision. Our transformative power has led us on the right path. The legacy I have set forth for forty years goes beyond conventional metrics and embraces the holistic pursuit of success. If our people feel successful, then we will succeed. Success is measured not just in profits but the genuine connections we forge, the innovations we embrace, and the impact we make on the world.
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