While asking great questions to our team members, clients, and other influencers is critical, the most important questions we can ask are the ones that we ask ourselves.
As a leader, you have undoubtedly learned that experience is an effective teacher. However, is experience the BEST teacher?
Have you ever met someone who said they have 20 years of real world experience, only to realize that what they really have is 1 year of experience doing the same thing for 20 years?
Experience is indeed a good teacher, but only evaluated experience creates greater awareness and positive change.
I am a natural risk taker and eternal optimist. In many ways, these tendencies serve me well. However, they can also cause me to forget to stop, reflect, and make necessary improvements. That’s why asking great questions is so important.
Recently I read a terrific leadership book based around asking great questions...
In a recent article, I discussed what I would do if I were an agency sales manager. It got a phenomenal response, prompting a huge number of questions and comments. Although producers weren’t so crazy about it, most sales managers loved it; they said it gave them a blueprint to follow. I also heard from several readers who wanted me to revisit the topic, but on another level. Their question: “What would you do if you were our CEO?”
That’s a great question! And it got me thinking about my “perfect vision” of an agency. How would I create the agency that exists in my mind and make it a reality?
If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I’m always preaching that numbers (your actual results) are the end result of the behaviors and strategies you have in place. Subsequently, the best behaviors and strategies become the “non-optionals” that...
It’s easy to take for granted the things we value the most. This is especially true with relationships, including the relationships we have with our best insurance clients.
In 1988, the long-haired, shrill sounding rock band, Cinderella, released the song, “Don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” If you are a fan of metal ballads from the 80’s this one will bring back memories. Although this song was about losing a lover, the message holds true for insurance agencies losing their top clients as well.
Have you ever had a “lifetime” client that you assumed would never leave, and then unexpectedly moved their business away from your agency? As an agency coach, I see this happen too often and I have also learned this the hard way from my own personal experience.
Midway through my insurance production career, I wrote a $15,000 revenue account for several years. We had a...
I’m amazed at how many people have never even considered these questions. Apparently they’ve never sat down as an organization to discuss their obligation to clients or given much thought as to whether they provide them any substantial benefits or advantages (e.g., value).
Often owners and producers confuse what they owe clients with the following empty claims they make during presentations:
Of course you provide this! You’d never say, “We give good service.”
All of the Carriers.
OK, so you represent a ton of companies. Doesn’t everyone?
All of the Best People.
This statement drives me crazy: “We have the best people in the business.” As if there were some vortex in the universe that magically opened and all the best people in the industry fell into...
By Brent M. Kelly
One of my favorite resources that we use with our Sitkins Network members is the 80/20 analysis.
I am guessing that you are at least vaguely familiar with the 80/20 principle, commonly known as the Pareto principle, named after Italian Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered this principle when studying land ownership.
The 80/20 principle is true in many areas in life and business such as:
· 20 percent of the roads produce 80 percent of the traffic jams
· 20 percent of drinkers consume 80 percent of beer
· 20 percent of students generate 80 percent of classroom discussions
· 20 percent of your clothes are worn 80 percent of the time
Are you an effective leader? Turn around and see if everyone—or anyone—is following you. If no one is there, you have your answer: You’re not an effective leader!
Not surprisingly, the best leaders in our CEO programs are the ones who achieve the greatest results. They’re the ones who identify the behaviors and strategies that become non-optional within their agency. Further, they demand accountability. They agree on what they’re going to do, and then they hold themselves and their team members accountable. That’s a leader!
Having said that, I believe it’s time that agency owners and producers make true organic growth a non-optional result. The reality is that the average agency is only achieving around 3% to 4% organic growth. I hope that you (as one of our readers) and your agency find this statistic to be unacceptable. Personally, I think it’s too low. However, it’s...
One of the questions I often get when I work with insurance agency leaders is, “How do I best lead my team?”
Let me start by saying that unless your agency just started from scratch or you are a one-person operation, you have challenging people on your team. People with egos, people with complacency, people with drama, people with an inability to listen effectively. However, none of these challenges will be your most difficult.
The most challenging person you will ever lead is YOU.
No other person you lead will have a bigger impact to your business results.
Leadership is personal and it doesn’t get any more personal than leading yourself.
Many of us are our own biggest fans….and our own worst critics. In other words, we don’t often see ourselves the same way others do. And if leading yourself wasn’t hard enough, as a leader you must realize that everyone is watching.
Your agency team is watching when you show up, when you leave,...
Like many industries, the insurance industry has been influenced by both positive and negative leadership over the years. Today, with the rapid pace of new information, changing technology, and younger workforce, strong leadership is needed now more than ever before.
What is true leadership?
For much of my life, I thought leadership was about power, experience, or position. What I have come to realize is that true leadership isn’t really about any of those things.
After 17 years of insurance industry experience, both from the inside and outside, I have seen countless examples of both strong and weak leadership characteristics from agency leaders, company personnel, producers, and administration.
Let’s discuss what I’ve discovered to be the 4 key principles of authentic and effective insurance leadership. I believe that by...
I’m sure you’re familiar with the opening line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” I believe this may apply to today’s independent insurance agencies as well.
It’s the best of times because agency values have never been higher and the United States economy is doing very well. But it also may be the worst of times for some or all of the following reasons:
On top of all that, there’s digital disruption in both commercial and personal lines. Although this is something that was barely recognized a decade ago, there are now hundreds of companies worldwide that are developing digital distribution for the insurance industry.
As a result of these and...
Imagine being in a business where every single person needs your product. Imagine being in a business where 90% of your clients will buy from you again every year…even if you are average. Imagine being in a business with unlimited opportunity for growth and financial freedom.
Every one of these statements is true for independent insurance agencies today.
Yet, even with the unlimited potential afforded in the insurance industry, when I speak to agency owners, one of the top frustrations is the ability to attract, train, and retain the best talent.
Well, every independent agency is unique, but I believe there are three common areas in which many insurance agencies struggle to bridge the talent gap.
1. They don’t know who they are (Lack of Purpose)
As an insurance agency leader, how would you answer when I ask, “Why does your agency exist and why should anyone care?” For the typical independent insurance agency,...
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