When I was young, I had an Afro hairstyle, which was the popular trend back in those days. But, one Sunday, right before we went to church, I somehow managed to get chewing gum stuck in it. My mom had to cut these big chunks out to remove the gum. After that, the hairdo looked pretty interesting, to say the least.
Nikki Newton no longer sports an Afro but he still appreciates the value of both church and mom, especially when life puts you in a rather sticky situation. When asked about his personal keys to success and leadership, for example, Newton offered this sage advice: ““Stay in touch with God and your parents, and always, always remember how you started.” To that he adds, “Never stop learning or trying; stay challenged, get out of bed early, and always set goals for yourself.”
Newton has served in various high-level positions of responsibility at Waddell & Reed. He is currently Senior Vice President and Global Director of Institutional Marketing for the company’s Asset Management Group. Waddell & Reed is one of the nation’s leading asset-management and financial-planning firms, and the success of the company depends on how well it can help its clients reach their investment goals. Newton must make wise investments based on clearly defined objectives — and be vigilant and focused regarding his team’s goals. But he also emphasizes the importance of effectively communicating to clients, so that they feel that they are also part of the process and vision.
To be effective in that capacity, he says, “You need to have a tremendous amount of humility. You need to be open to new ideas and constantly challenge what you feel is true about the best way to approach this segment of the industry. In terms of proficiencies, I have to be thorough, listen, be driven, be a bit thick-skinned, and remain acutely aware of how all the pieces fit together.”
Serving in the military helped him develop his leadership approach. For Newton, it was a life-changing experience that opened his eyes to a whole new world. “Since then, I just accept that unforeseen things can happen. You just have to deal with them, learn, and move forward.” He also gives credit to the many people along the way who have inspired him — explaining that they are too numerous to mention. "I would not be a good leader, and trending to be a better leader, if I had not been well led," he says.
Newton describes himself as fiercely independent and he pushes others to find their independence inside the framework of his organization. “I think you should look for people to inspire you,” he says. “Seeing people grow is a tremendous motivation for me to lead.”
Newton, along with his wife Kim, is enjoying watching his own daughter grow, too, and acknowledges that the experience of becoming a parent was a total game-changer and paradigm shift. “I’ve not looked at the world the same way since,” he says. “It was incredible to suddenly become secondary in your own eyes and assume responsibility in the way parenthood forces and we readily accept.”
Newton is also devoted to charitable work, and his selfless and generous efforts to support numerous nonprofit organizations are especially noteworthy. “Nikki, in the way he conducts his life, is a personification of the ideals expressed by the Eagle Award,” explains Hank Herrmann, CEO and Chairman of Waddell & Reed. “He is broadly recognized and respected for his dedication, energy, and character — by all who work with him. Nikki is very deserving of any recognition he receives regarding his accomplishments, his leadership, and his commitment to the ideals of the National Eagle Leadership Institute.”
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2012 Eagle Award winner Nikki Newton.