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...
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:
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...
One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others.
As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.
As we’ve talked about before, you must have the Three Cs if you want to grow your business: Commitment, Capacity and Capabilities. You just have to find the right systems and guidance that will create predictable and guaranteed sales and profit improvements. Also, you’ll need to invest at least two percent of your revenues for these growth initiatives. The goal is to create the “Agency’s Way” of growing that all team members buy into.
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