Tim Bohannon believes that if he finds the right person, then his organization can find him or her the right role.
“Our purpose statement is, ‘We help people align their actions with their values,’ ” said Bohannon, general manager of Northwestern Mutual-Twin Cities. That statement to help clients also helps to drive alignment of values throughout Bohannon’s office.
Through the Workplace Dynamics Top Workplaces survey, Bohannon was recognized for his leadership in the small company category.
“He’s got an uncanny ability to have a vision, get people excited about that vision and empower them to have a share of that vision,” said BJ Hellyer, who has worked for Bohannon since 2008 and is currently chief development officer.
Northwestern Mutual’s Minneapolis office also was recognized, ranking 14th on the midsize company list.
The Twin Cities office — whose territory also includes some of the metro area, plus southern and western Minnesota and western Wisconsin — has made the Top Workplaces list for six consecutive years and this year ranked eighth on the small company list.
Northwestern Mutual, headquartered in Milwaukee, is a full-service financial planning firm. The organization has 78 regional offices, each headed by a managing partner who is considered an independent contractor and has wide latitude to manage his or her office.
Bohannon has been with Northwestern Mutual for 34 years and has been the managing partner for the Twin Cities office since 1998.
A key element for growth at all financial and wealth management firms, Bohannon said, is increasing the number of financial advisers, who are generally independent contractors.
Northwestern relies on a “farm club” approach to finding and developing new financial advisers, instead of free agents from other companies or independent advisers. “To grow distribution, we’d rather recruit, develop, train our own,” Bohannon said.
Bohannon estimates that more than 60 percent of the advisers in his office, including himself, started out in a college internship program.
“Our culture is the single most important thing to me personally,” Bohannon said. “Our culture is what drives me and is what is most important.”
When recruiting, Bohannon looks for attitude, organization skills and communication skills. Then he believes in empowering people.
Bohannon is a fan of the work of John Maxwell, whose leadership books include titles such as “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader,” and is currently reading Maxwell’s “Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters.”
“One of the things that I learned from Maxwell was the value of priority management as opposed to time management,” Bohannon said.
Bohannon learned from an early mentor to manage his own priorities. Those priorities include recruiting and coaching employees.
As one employee said in the survey: Bohannon’s leadership teaches to “grow leaders and invest in people, focus on the client first in all situations.”
“I look at it that I’m the CCO. The chief culture officer,” Bohannon said. “I love to be involved, but I don’t like to micromanage.”