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Five frameworks to take your EQ to the next level

Quarterly Newsletter Issue 7, June 23

“I’m not a natural born people person; I’m great with numbers and the technical side of what I do, which clients love. But I can struggle with the emotional side.”

At Lead Adviser, we hear comments like this from financial advisers and know many of you feel this way about the human skills increasingly needed in your role. Of past Lead Adviser participants surveyed, concepts like emotional intelligence, content versus context and the Four L’s ranked the highest in terms of your requirement for help to better understand and implement the Lead Adviser Framework.

Subtle emotional skills play a critical role for established and emerging advice leaders in today’s environment. From liaising with savvy clients, larger family clients and centres of influence to growing a successful team and sitting on a board, these ‘soft skills’ are no longer a “nice to have” – you’ve got to display excellent coaching skills to succeed. What is at stake involves navigating the precious little time had in front of such key people and opportunities to form secure bonds and forge desirable outcomes. Missing or ignoring non-verbal cues or failing to unearth deeper issues can lead to severe roadblocks; perhaps you can recall a few of your own.

In addition, a 2021 study titled “Australian Financial Advisers Wellbeing Report” dubbed the group of advisers leading with their EQ skills as “Thrivers”. These advisers were growing their businesses, enjoying the role, and experiencing great work-life balance. What connected the Thrivers wasn’t demographics, but the characteristics of “psychological flexibility, psychological capital, adaptive performance, [and] prioritisation of their wellbeing in conjunction with the ability to engage in industry support”.

The research points to EQ skills as key indicators of a thriving career in advice. But why do some professionals seem to have or adopt human skills effortlessly while others struggle? At Lead Adviser, with decades of experience teaching human skills in the profession, we have found two major contributing factors to this success:

1. Learning the skills via frameworks
2. Practising the skills within community

In this article, we bring together executive led theory and Lead Adviser experience to help draw you closer to embodying more softer skills in your everyday life. If you are one of the advisers in the highly technical camp, we hope this content delivers these skills in a format accessible to how you process information.


Although human emotions, decisions and interactions can be all over the place, frameworks provide structure and can help distil this complexity into meaning. You would already be familiar with some of the Lead Adviser frameworks, but you could be underestimating their use, forgetting to use them or using them in less impactful ways. For example, Lead Adviser co-Founder and Coach, John Woodley, recently said in a mastermind group, “In board meetings and with my team, I am always running these frameworks in my mind to pick up incongruencies, listen for disagreements in the content, see what’s really being said”.

In addition to some Lead Adviser frameworks you already know, we spotlight a couple of others that can have a positive impact on your human skills and business growth.


Creating trust quickly and staying there is the fundamental building block of great human and business skills. The formula below can assist you in understanding what precisely in the interaction process has led to incongruencies and broken trust.

Imagine an example where a founder has hired a new CEO and expresses disappointment with some behaviour. Specifically, the new CEO had the habit of not responding to emails. Using the Trust Equation, can you identify the issue?

Once differences in work style and culture are put aside, the team can walk through the equation and create a safe space to underscore that there is a simple reliability issue. The ambiguity and lack of cohesion are identified, the CEO can take easy steps to rectify the situation and restore trust. Using this formula, you can understand where communication breaks down and work proactively to build strong connections.

Access details of the Trust Equation via The Trusted Advisor website.


Most conversations start with the political and it’s often when they go below the line to the spiritual that real connection, significance and influence/inspiration can happen. In fundamentally understanding your client, staff or influential partners at this level, you immediately become effective across the other technical conversations that need to be had.

To have a below-the-line conversation, start by understanding what lights up that person’s spirit. Then, as you are the one calling them back to their spirit or joy, this instantly sets you apart from traditional financial planners who are solely focused on transactional conversations at the political level.

Knowing your below-the-line driving forces is a practical and enlightening way to start bringing this framework to life. Locate your values and understand your personal and professional north star to uncover how these factors influence your life (with or without your awareness they run the show). Practice the PIES Model by going below-the-line with your staff and leading with their emotional stake to drive shared outcomes.

Refer to the Lead Adviser handbook on page 28 for the PIES Model outline.


In the world of basic emotions, humans seek out social rewards and move away from perceived threats. The SCARF Model has five main drivers that make up the social reward/threat dynamic, and understanding them helps leaders have more effective interactions.

For instance, knowing that your client feels safest when they have autonomy and that a sense of losing control can elicit feelings of threat for them, will help you to create the necessary container so they can be themselves and still achieve goals. Sensing you understand their deeper needs, helps to build trust and longevity.

Become familiar with these social nuances by taking the NeuroLeadership Institute SCARF test to uncover your personal sensitivity scale. Then, develop an understanding of your team’s drivers, experiment and review your outcomes.

Refer to the Lead Adviser handbook on page 26 for the SCARF Model outline.


Another framework to uncover incongruencies and build trust is Content versus Context. Content is all the transactional work a typical financial planner will engage in, such as wills and plans. Context is where the deeper reason for the will or plan is unearthed. Getting to the context can pose a challenge for advisers and clients alike. Typical indicators where there is communication misalignment include feeling disjointed, things not making sense, and one or multiple parties needing help understanding what’s going on.

These miscommunications happen almost exclusively at the content level, for example, addressing investment returns with cyclical charts only. John Woodley recommends chunking up to the context level where you find some basis to agree, e.g. yes, returns are down, and you’re right it’s scary because of these cycles, but the purpose of this choice was due to these goals and this outcome.

It is crucial to find where you relate – when you have unification, agreement and meaning become possible. The 10-3-Now is where much of a client’s context is captured, so use that as your reference point.

Refer to the Lead Adviser handbook on page 5 for the Content versus Context outline. To help you draw more context out of your clients, utilise the Questioning Techniques on page 31 along with the 101 Great Coaching Questions on page 48.



Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions is a framework for building great teams. According to Patrick, strong teams are the most significant advantage a business can have, and their strength is measured by how skilfully they have quelled dysfunction and built trust.

Dysfunction typically starts when teams are in fear of their mistakes and conflict, and this kind of environment can lead to a lack of overall commitment and accountability. The antidote is for leaders to start first rather than trying to be the hero, lead with vulnerability and create a safe place to open up. Then, once trust has been built, you can mine for conflict and gain clarity as you progress through the framework.

Environments where challenging one another is a safe experience for all, where debate is healthy and where winning is a shared experience is the end goal.

This can be applied to clients during the 10-3-Now, where you step outside your comfort zone and address your client’s commitment to the life plan. Pressing the point to gain clarity that all parties are committed to the plan helps mine for any additional conflict. But once that is done, everyone knows without a doubt that they’re on the same page – the conversation is over. You have built trust between everyone, and you have built it as their adviser – they can now hold each other accountable.

Refer to the book “Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.


The key to winning at enhancing your human skills is to pick a framework that resonates and commit to it. Rather than trying to learn several frameworks at once, develop a deep understanding and practice of just one, so applying it becomes second nature. Practice makes progress, so think about how you can share this strategy with your centres of influence, team, mentors and mentees.


John Woodley is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth he is also Co-Founder of Lead Adviser. John has over 25 years’ experience in financial services having run a successful high-net-worth practice in Brisbane. He is passionate about leading people to achieve their dreams and thrives on building communities. He brings sound ethics, a high degree of strategy and advisory smarts together with human connection, constantly in service of the client.

Guided by the philosophy:
– Culture worth belonging to
– Leaders worth following
– Work worth doing

To connect with John, reach out via LinkedIn.

Connect with me on Linkedin

Three years into running a Lead Adviser business, Garry believes in working collaboratively with other professionals to gain the best outcome for his clients in terms of wealth and stability. He is active within both the business and financial services industry, running two practices in WA, and expanding with close to three decades of experience. In addition to being Managing Director of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth WA, he has also served on several advisory boards and committees, lectured in Financial Planning for FINSIA, and is currently an Executive Committee Member and the Deputy President of the Kalgoorlie Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

To connect with Garry, reach out via LinkedIn.

Connect with me on Linkedin


Fitzpatricks Private Wealth Pty Ltd, ABN 33 093 667 595, holder of Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 247 429. Garry Symonds is an Authorised Representative of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth.

Useful Resources

The EQ Difference

Brian Fitzpatrick discusses how to lead your client to their best life.

Past Newsletters

See our previous Lead Adviser newsletters here.


Community, giving back and elevating advice is at the core of why Lead Adviser exists and continues to deliver a high value coaching program. Which is why we value the feedback from past attendees in our follow up anonymous surveys. Some of the most common feedback we get is expressed below and if you have feedback or a question we would love to hear from you.

“Very impressed with Scott, Brian and John, the amount they give and their honesty.”

“I liked the frameworks, multiple presenters, role plays, time for questions, willingness to share information and experience.”

A lot of content, may require a refresher / followup after a period of time to ensure we are on the right track and implementing concepts effectively.”

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