Leading Meaningful Change in Your Agency


Brent discusses four key areas to help lead your team, your ideas, and your behaviors into meaningful lasting change.

So how can you create better buy-in with your team when it comes to change?:

7:30 - Having a Clear Vision vs. Confusion

11:08 - Having a Culture to support the Change

14:30 - Having Consistency vs Intensity

16:50 - Commitment vs Complacency

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, thanks so much for joining me on this episode. Excited to be with you and to discuss today something that is a huge challenge for agency leaders and agencies in general. And that is, how do I, or how does my leadership team lead meaningful change, right? If there's something that we want to change, or certainly improve whatever term you want to use in the agency, how can we do it? How can we do it most effectively? And, you know, as an opportunity of working with agencies across the country as part of the Sitkins Network I can tell you that that's one of the biggest challenges and frustrations for agencies we work with as far as, “Hey, listen, I get it, or we get it. We want to do it, but how can we best get others to get on board?”

Or a better way of saying is, how do we get greater buy-in? So that'll be the focus of today's podcast. I'm going to talk about four specific things that you can do as an agency leader or an agency leadership team. And by the way, I would take this one step further. For any producers listening or insurance professionals, they go, well, maybe I'm not trying to lead a team. This is also true about leading yourself to meaningful change. So applies in all areas of discussion when it comes to, again, meaningful change or improvement in your agency. So excited to get started and talk about that. Before I get into the content that I want to discuss today, as always, we want to set a reminder of the purpose of the Agent Leader podcast. Why do I do this? Why is it important? Well, is to help you, the independent insurance agency leader, to help you gain clarity, to build consistency, and to make a commitment to become your best version possible.

And I'm going to give a tease right now. I don't have a specific date of when this is going to happen, so that's why it's a tease. But be on the lookout in the coming weeks we're going to be introducing something that we are so excited about and not just that we're excited about. I think that agencies, once they hear this, are going to be super excited about, and, you know, we talk about the best version possible. We've got the best version possible experience, the best version possible process that we have our member agencies go through. But one of the things that we've talked a lot at Sitkins in the last year and beyond, but certainly the last year, is how can we help get agencies that may be on the fence, or they're really interested in doing something, but they're not sure if they want to take that leap.

How can we give them something meaningful, impactful if they can begin to use and implement at a level that will get them on board and get them results quickly, right? Get them integrated quickly. So be on the lookout for something coming that's going to do just that. Again, we can't wait. We can't wait to announce it. We can't wait to get it out there. We can't wait for you as an agency leader and agency teams to be able to experience it because we know the impact that it's already had on agencies and the insurance professionals on your team and the impact it'll have for you moving forward. So, be on the lookout. Alright, last thing I'll say on that. All right, let's get into the content today because this is important content. As I've done in the past. You know, I've got some bullet points but I'm going to speak a lot from my heart, a lot from experience on this that really that, that I want to share with you.

Again, the agency leader of what you can do or your team can do, or how you can lead yourself to meaningful and significant change as you move forward. And there are four things that we're going to get into, but before I get into the four things I just wanted to state this up front. In fact, I did a, a LinkedIn post, and I'm also alive on LinkedIn right now. So hello for all the LinkedIn people that watch this. But I did a LinkedIn post this week that relates to what I want to talk about today. And what I put on LinkedIn, I'll start off with on this podcast is this, that if, if I offered you a million dollars today, would you be open to that change, right? If I said, Hey, we're going to make a big change today. Here's the change, you ready?

I'm going to offer you a million dollars, I'm going to give you a million dollars, would you be open to that change? The answer of course is yes, of course I would, Brent. But now here's an interesting thing. Let's take a different direction. If I were going to say this, hey, for the next week in business, you're going to have to write using your non-dominant hand, right? No reason, just because I told you So starting this week, if you're right-handed, you now have to write left-handed. You're left-handed to write right-handed. Would you be like, oh, cool, right? Probably not likely. Now, those are two very different different examples obviously, but what is the true difference between those two besides one's a million dollars and one is handwriting? Well, the truth of it is, the difference is this. One is based on outcome and one is based on behavior.

And there's a great quote, and hopefully I say his name right? If it's Peter Singe, sorry Peter, apologize. But I've heard this quote in many cases before. I love this, said this. He said this, people don't resist change, they resist being changed, right? People typically don't resist change. In fact, they're like, oh, I love change until you ask them to change a behavior or a habit in many cases. And they go, well, now this is not as comfortable. Maybe I don't like this change. See, what people typically want is the outcome that positive change provides. What they don't want is the behavior, habit, or mindset that the change is requiring them to do, right? To achieve that outcome they want. And we think about this for independent insurance agencies. Again, I'm going to give you four ways or four steps, so to speak, to do this.

But here's some examples we we'd see with independent insurance agencies. What I want, the outcome I want is an improved relationship and trust with my team. That's what I want. That's the, if I said, Hey, would you want a change in your agency? There's improved relationship and trust with your team, would you want that? Yes. Alright. But what they often don't want is proactive communication and accountability, right? That's what leads to relationships and trust, right? So if I had, if I talk to a producer for example, or production team what I want is a larger book of business, the outcome. Would you want that change? Of course you would. What I resist is consistent pipeline development or low risk practices. We talk about sit kids or high level preparation. What I want is more sales and service capacity. I want greater capacity for my sales team, my service team, to do things at a higher level, to have more time to do what's most important.

Would you want that change? Yes. What I resist or what gets resisted is implementing specific systems and processes, right? So the bottom line, again, the idea of significant improvement without an attachment to behavior modification is why people don't do it. Because the, the idea of a significant improvement is great, but to do something makes us uncomfortable. And guess what we like as humans to be comfortable. That's why we often stay content on talking about what we're going to do versus doing the thing that'll actually determine or get us the result or outcome we desire, right? Logically it doesn't make any sense. Emotionally. It makes perfect sense because guess what? The comfort zone is comfortable. So as we get in today, I want to talk about things. Well, okay, that may make sense to you, but what could I do or we do as an agency leadership team to help lead our team into significant change?

And by the way, as you're going to hear me talk about it has to be impactful change, right? Not just change for the sake of change. So I'm going to talk about four different things, and we're going to start with this first one. I'll put this on my screen is about, and I'm going to compare and contrast, right? A couple different sides. If you want to have significant or meaningful change, you've got to have clear vision versus confusion. Again, that may sound really obvious, but let's talk about that for a few minutes. Clear vision is that if your team ask you or someone on your team ask you, where are we going? What will that look like? And what will that mean for me? Could you give them a clear and compelling vision of that future? Or is it, well, you're going to do lots of stuff, lots of people, lots of times.

And it may change and vary, right? And, and by the way, I've mentioned this on podcast before, but most agencies and agency leaders I talk to, and I I'm, I'm guilty of this too, this is not easy. If you ask them what are some frustrations or things that are challenges to your agency success, they can often give you a number of reasons or answers. It's this, it's this, it's this. But when you ask them, what do you really want? Where do you really want to go? What does it look like? That becomes, gosh, I haven't really thought about that. So the first thing that you have to do, if you're going to someone else to change or lead them in a new direction, be really clear on what that direction and that chain is going to be. And by the way, that is really set the outcome.

And then of course begin, we'll talk about this in a minute. Some of the things they'll need to go along with that change. But set a vision or expectation of vision of a compelling future. If someone drove up to the front of your office or your house today and they pulled up in a car and they said, Hey, hop in. Now besides the fact that maybe you don't know them, that would be weird. But if you asked them, okay, where are we going? And they said, I don't really know. Just hop in the car. Would you be compelled to get in? No, you'd be confused. You'd be like, well, I don't know where we're going. I don’t know if I want to do this. So the first step, a meaningful change is have a compelling and clear vision of where you're going and what it's going to look like, right?

John Maxwell says it best leaders see more and leaders see before others, right? They see more. They're able to help some of their followers see the direction they're going, paint a vivid picture that compels people to say, “Hmm, maybe this is something I want to be part of”, right? So that's the step one or key area number one is clear vision area number two I want to talk about in leading meaningful change is this idea of culture versus process. And I I, when I explain process, I want to make sure that it's, it's a little different than maybe what you're thinking. And I, I'll, I'll, I'll state this by asking this question. If you were going to implement a change in your agency, and it could be anything, I mean it could be a new agency management system, that's a pretty big change. It could be as simple as a new printer, I don't know, in your agency.

Or it could be a little more directed to a strategy. This is our new set offense, or this is our new our new playbook that we're going to run from, right? This is our new renewal process. It could be a number of those things, right? But the new thing, oftentimes if I ask an agency, would you start with why you're doing that thing, right? The impact it'll have or here's how we do that thing. Which one do most agency leaders start with? They typically start with, because it's natural, the process. Hey team, I'm going to share with you the new renewal process that we're going to begin implementing on January 1st or whatever it is, or October 1st. And this is exactly what it looks like and this is what we're going to do. Now, that's better than nothing but better than that. That's the process. What you should be focused on, certainly in the first phase of change is the culture.

Meaning why are we doing this right? And we'll just, we'll stay on on board with the renewal process. because It's something I think that people can all understand. Before you would implement or talk about specifics of the renewal process, you should be communicating why in essence this would be important. And not even talking about the renewal process itself. But the fact is, we have some chinks in our armor. We have some opportunities to provide a greater level of excellence to our clients who need us the most. There are certain times we're making promises that we haven't kept or delivered at the level we needed to, whatever it is, right? But we're talking about specific culture areas of what we expect our agency needs to do this better. This this philosophy, this idea is important. So we're going to talk about the culture, the impact, the why.

Why is this important to the client? Why is this important to us as an agency? Why is this important to our future that we get this thing right? And as you begin to communicate, now, again, depending on the change, it may be a, a week or two and it could be months depending on the significance or size of the change you're implementing. Only you would know that. But you've got to make sure the team understands that. So we always talk about this if we would, if we would graphically put it out there that the first step of this 80% of your time, energy, and effort is talking about the culture. Only about 20% may be to say, Hey, we're going to, we will be down the road introducing a process to support this. And then as you move into phase two, it's going to be a little more 50/50.

We're now going to talk more about the process and what it does while we're still communicating the culture on a regular basis. And ultimately to lead meaningful change. We've communicated the process so consistently and deliberately over a period of time that now that we say this is a specific process and how we're going to do it, people are now going to say, oh, that makes sense. We've been talking about the importance of the why. So it would be a natural outcome that we would install this process to satisfy the culture that we've been building around this specific area, right? And so in fact, looking at it, we could have 80% now a spin on the process that's always reinforced only at a small percent. Now, because you've set the foundation with the culture. Why is that important? Well, it's because if we're going to lead meaningful change, we need to get buy in.

You could have the greatest idea in the world. And if you don't get people on your team to buy in, it's a pretty difficult idea to implement, right? In fact, in some cases impossible. because You're fighting uphill and people will actively work against you. Now, does this mean you're going to get a hundred percent buy-in? No. Right? No one's going to get a hundred percent buy-in, but make your job easier. In fact, the quote that I've used many times is that you can either con or you can either connect with people or you can try to convince them. As my mom said years ago, those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. So if you walk in with a pro, this is new process, you're going to do it because I said so and this is how you're going to do it, and you're going to start doing this tomorrow.

And gosh darn it, you're going to like it. That might work for a period of time. And you could say, well, I pay 'em money so they better do what I say. That's partially true. But at some point they're going to start doing what they want to do anyway or they're going to actively resist or work against you, right? And maybe you've experienced that at some point in, in, in leading meaningful change. Which leads me to number three. Third step, third area, whatever you want to call it, is consistency versus versus intensity. Now, I love intensity. I get pretty intense on certain things, but what I have learned in learning, working with agencies, that it's really easy to get intense for a day or a week or heck maybe even a month. But that doesn't lead to meaningful change. That leads to a lot of rah rah, a lot of pomp and circumstance that's never followed up with execution.

And certainly the results that you're looking for. And if you ask anybody, you know, I mean this is the the silly analogy, but would it make more sense for you to go in and work out for seven hours or whatever it is, or four or five hours on a weekend or once a month, go in and just give it your off at one day or once a month? Or would you better off to have consistent 30 minute workouts? We know we know the answer to that, right? The same is true in leading meaningful change and a big problem. And we see with agency leaders, and again, I'll raise my own hand because this is something I have to cognitively think about all the time because I get excited about new ideas, is that if you continue to bring in a new idea with only intensity, not followed up with consistency, you're going to have your team, after you walk out of the room or after the meeting or the next day, they're going to look around the room at each other and say, is he or she gone yet?

Yes. And they'll say, don't worry, this too shall pass. Right? And they'll go back to do what they did before. because Guess what? He or she'll have a new idea next week anyway and they'll forget about this, right? So part of this is you're going to leave meaningful change. Make sure the change is worth consistently doing. And so this is something I I've said before but I'll mention again, is that if you're going to make and implement a change, a positive change to your agency of any kind, ask yourself, does this excite me one year from now? Could I see our agency doing this one year from now? Knowing all the things we have to do consistently? And again, that's even easier because you haven't done it all yet, but just ask yourself that. It's really easy to think, oh, this is the next three days, seven days, one month.

But is this meaningful change? Because in my opinion, if you're going to implement change in your agency, significant change, something that's going to make a difference. If I don't see us doing this a year from now, I sure as heck shouldn't start doing it today. It's going to be a waste of everyone's time, energy, and effort, right? So consistency versus intensity.

Which leads me to my last one, which really kind of sums up everything together. And I think there's overlap in all of these, but this idea of commitment versus complacency, and this is again, somewhat to consistency, but I think there's some slight difference here as well. It's easy to make a commitment. And I mentioned earlier, right? It's easy to talk about the things that we're going to do, right? That's not a commitment, that's a hope, that's a wish, that's an intention, right? A commitment is there are certain metrics or areas or things we're going to do.

And the word that you can write in there if you're taking notes at home, is accountability. There is accountability. If you come in and talk about change and begin to go, go through the culture and into the process, what are the things that we must be accountable to and for, to ensure this takes place? Whether it's tangible strategies, whether it's deadlines that we need to look at. Again, could those shift and move? Maybe, but at least we've got them, right? Where are we at on this? What does that look like? What is the next step we need to take here? Right? That's commitment. One of the examples i I talk about frequently is, again, I, years and years ago, I ran a marathon. I haven't done one since because it was my bucket list apparently. But I just think about this. If I were to decide that I want to run a marathon again and I don't, but if I did, would it be better or worse if I sat here, maybe I watched a video or I read a book or I talk to someone, they're like, man, you should run this.

I'm like, you know what? I should do one again. I'm going to run a marathon. Gosh darn, I'm going to run a marathon. And that's as far as it came. It's, it's, it's going to be next spring. I'm going to run a marathon next spring. How likely would I be to actually do that marathon, right? That was a passing thought or an intention. That's not commitment. Commitment is, I thought about it, I talked to someone and then I did what I signed up for the event. I paid a fee, I bought my shoes, I created a training planner schedule. I had an accountability partner saying, Hey, I'm going to be doing this. I need you to hold me accountable to do this. Right? The flip of this of course is complacency. Because what happens if you don't create yourself a committed plan with accountability at some one month, two month, three month, four months?

And all throughout that things are going to be hard, things are going to be challenging. And if you haven't really committed full out to something that you believe is important enough to take a change and, and take some time, energy, and effort to do, you will at some point say to yourself, you know what? It wasn't that big a deal. I didn't really need to do that, right? From an agency perspective, it really wasn't that important. I, I don't know if it's really worth this anyway. And gosh, that was a few months ago and now that I've thought about it, right? That's the difference between commitment and complacency. So if you're going to lead meaningful change, make a true commitment, have accountability partners, right as you go along the way, have a plan, but have a plan of action and blah, blah, blah. Just because you have a plan doesn't mean it's always going to be followed.

But guess what? You've got a plan. Dwight Eisenhower, I love this quote. He said, I found that in preparing for battle, the plans were useless, but the planning was indispensable. And part of that is the strategy and the commitment and the accountability behind that. Alright? So four errors. You want to have meaningful change for your agency. And again, if you're taking notes, here are the four to write down four things to lead meaningful change. Number one, do you have a clear vision of the outcome that you want? Do you see it? Can you paint the picture? Is the vision compelling? If someone asks you, where are we going? Could you say we're going here, right? And there's an emotional excitement attached to that versus, I don't know, but it's going to be really cool, right? So clear vision versus confusion. Number two, culture versus process. Are we starting first with culture?

Why we are doing this? The impact that makes to our agency, our clients, whatever the, whoever the change involves versus saying this is the new thing and how we're going to do it on day one. Why is this important? Because if we can establish the culture and the why, we can get greater buy-in. And if you don't have buy-in, you can't lead and get meaningful change. So culture versus process. Number three, consistency versus intensity. Are we willing to be consistent over a period of time or are we just going to show intensity? I'm fired up, I'm excited. I read a book, I watched a podcast, I watched the agent leader podcast. I'm excited. Here's what we're going to do. Right? That's great. Intensity's good, but only if you truly have a consistent effort behind it. Can you see yourself and your agency doing this one year from now?

Right? Small bites at the apple versus eating a hundred apples, right? For another analogy. And then last is I just mentioned commitment versus complacency. What's your accountability? What's your plan? What's your commitment to the outcome you want versus an idea? Because when it gets hard without commitment and these other things that I shared with you, you will quit. You will stop. How many things raising my own hand have you thought about or got excited about that you never fully committed to? You never actually executed? I can think of many things and if I go through those four that I just listed, including this one, I can tell you there was a breakdown in one or all those parts of why I never continued with something that I believe was important. And the last thing I'll say is that if there is meaningful change, if you've thought about this and you've really taken this home, this isn't just a passing thought, then how long would you wait to start this?

How long would you wait? Now as I mentioned, there are things that you want to discuss. There's culture aspects, but the law of diminishing intent says something very clearly. The longer you wait to do something, you know, you should probably do, the less likely it is that you'll ever actually do it. So what is that meaningful change that you know it's right for your agency, it's right for yourself, it's right for your team. Whatever your specific area is and how long you're going to wait to get started. And then as you start that change, these four areas are going to be most impactful for you to lead yourself and your teams to the outcome desire. Hopefully this was helpful to all of you. Thanks for listening in again for all of our live viewers. Thanks for popping on here as well. Obviously, this podcast is also available, whether it's Apple Podcast or Spotify or Amazon or other places.

I don't even know, YouTube. So please subscribe and leave a review. We're trying to grow the audience here. We want to help agencies. We have a passion help agencies to help empower agencies, to equip agencies, to educate agencies to become that best version possible. And by the way, if you don't have the book, go to to get a copy of the best version possible book. This is succinct and can give you some guidance and your agency that you're looking for, for areas of growth. And then the last thing is be on the lookout. There's a big announcement coming in the next few weeks that's going to transform agencies and allow you as an agency to get on the fast track to success. Can't wait to tell you about that. Thanks so much for listening. We'll talk to you soon. Thanks.


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