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...
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...
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...
By Brent Kelly:
Several years ago, I heard a quote from leadership expert John Maxwell that caused me to stop and pause. He said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
I think the word that caused me to stop and pause was EVERYTHING.
I believe that leadership is important in business growth and development, but EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership? That seems like a bit much.
Over the past few years in my own coaching business and now as an executive coach for The Sitkins Group, I can confidently say that John Maxwell is 100% correct. EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership.
Recently, our entire team at the Sitkins Group started to make a list of the scariest trends facing insurance agencies today. After internal discussion and getting feedback from insurance leaders across the country, we discovered 8 common scary trends. They include:
· Low organic growth
No doubt, you’re eager to discover the joys of being uncomfortable. But seriously, getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to achieve greatness vs. “okayness.”
1. Start systematically challenging everything you do. This means questioning the What’s, Why’s, and How’s of your agency’s operation. Why do we do this? Why are we doing it this way? How do we improve that? How do we get better at doing that? To quote Thomas Edison, “There’s a way to do it better—find it!” Why not use that as a guiding principle for your agency?
2. Force your producers to rehearse every presentation. Remember it’s okay to look stupid in the office when practicing (low-risk practice). It’s not okay to look stupid in front of clients or prospects. That’s high-risk practice!
Also, when practicing, record your rehearsals and then critique them. Regrettably, far fewer than 5% of agencies do this,...
It dawned on me recently that too many agencies and their teams are too comfortable (or complacent) to really grow. What they have are “lifestyle agencies,” which is absolutely okay if that’s what they want.
Gary Holgate, my mentor in the business and the first-ever true independent agency consultant, always said that what happens at so many agencies is that the owners start out selling insurance and wind up running a business. So often, they get overwhelmed by the day-to-day minutiae of operating an agency and subsequently fall into the trap of just being busy.
Now the good news/bad news is that you don’t have to implement many— if any—of the Sitkins Strategies to do just fine. As we’ve discussed many times, in this business, owners and producers can make a great living and support a very nice lifestyle without having to do too much, aside from just showing up. It’s hard to find fault...
One of the best questions I’ve ever heard is from Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach program. He asked, “Is your past greater than your future, or is your future greater than your past?” I certainly hope it’s the latter and that you’re more excited about what’s on the horizon than what’s in the rear view mirror.
Of course, we all know people who live in the past. Their glory days are well behind them and yet they talk about them like it was just yesterday. Maybe it’s the former captain of the high school football team whose conversation will frequently turn to “the big game” from 40-plus years ago.
Similarly, there are producers who wax poetic about “the good old hard market days.”
Let’s face it, as an independent insurance agency owner or producer, your past has been pretty darn good. After all, this is a great business, and that’s exactly why you should expect an even greater future.
Most, if not all, independent insurance agencies say they want to grow. However, the actual organic growth rate for most agencies does not reflect this.
According to a recent report, even the national brokers had an organic growth rate of only about 3% last year. While their 3% translates to a much greater dollar amount than the average agency, it’s still only 3%. Considering these are the agencies that are supposed to have the best producers, the best markets and the best everything, to me that’s a truly lackluster figure.
Any agency that’s growing just enough to stay ahead of the ever-increasing cost of doing business is barely maintaining profitability. Accordingly, there’s little or nothing left to invest in obtaining the best people, automation and outside services. So the need for organic growth is self-evident—or is it?
As I began to ponder why more agencies aren’t growing at a greater rate, it occurred to me...
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