“Good is the enemy of great. And one of the key reasons we have so little that becomes great.” Jim Collins
Why do some independent insurance agencies hunger for never-ending improvement and growth while others simple settle for good enough?
It’s a question that we ask ourselves all the time at the Sitkins Group. Our mission is to help independent insurance agencies become the best possible version of themselves and live a life with no regrets.
In our recent live and online trainings to our Sitkins Network members, we have consistently asked the participants to stop postponing their greatness to ensure that they maximize their full potential.
I think too many agencies sell themselves short of their true potential. In large part, because this is truly a great business model. If you give a solid effort, do a decent job in sales, and give your clients average service, you can still make a nice living. In fact, a much nicer living...
HOW TO CHART A NEW COURSE AND STAY FOCUSED ON IT
After all these years of coaching independent agency leadership teams and producers, I’m not surprised by very much. For example, it doesn’t surprise me that the vast majority of agencies are simply drifting along. However, it frustrates me that this is a recurring theme at most agencies. They’re doing fine, but they’re just drifting.
I know this because whenever I ask prospective consulting clients specific questions about their business—their annual business plans, budgets, sales goals, financial models, training, etc.—most of them have nothing to say, because they don’t have any of the aforementioned items. (Maybe that’s why they’re calling me!) The reality is that you can be semi-successful in this great business without any of those things.
As you may recall, “semi-successful” means you’re doing really well financially (making more money than you’d make...
If I asked you to list some characteristics of great leaders, what would you say? Do words like courage, tenacity, compassion, vision, drive, authenticity, determination, empathy, understanding, and results-focused come to mind?
Those are all great characteristics of leadership, but how does one become a better leader? More specifically, what should emerging leaders in the independent insurance agency channel focus on to prepare themselves to move their organizations and our industry forward?
It’s no secret that our business has been very well served through the years with solid leadership, but we’re seeing a growing leadership gap develop. Current industry leaders are continuing to transition into their next phase of life. And younger folks are taking notice. An up-and-coming insurance leader recently asked me a very important question: “What are some of the things that I should be doing to prepare and develop myself to become a better leader?”
This got me...
There are literally scores of strategies and behaviors that agencies can implement in their quest to achieve great results. However, I’ve found that the greatest results come from focusing on a few selected strategies. The opposite is also true: The more things you chase, the fewer things you catch!
Chasing too many strategies certainly doesn’t provide clarity and focus for your team. Too often what they’re chasing becomes the “flavor of the week,” prompting the staff to think, “Don’t worry, this too shall pass,” because they know you won’t stick with it.
During a private presentation to a group of agency principals recently, I was asked to identify the traits I see in the best agency leaders. Because it’s such an extensive list and because I believe that less is more, I narrowed it down to the Key Core Commitments of great agency leaders. In case you’re wondering, my definition...
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...
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...
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...
The act of empowering others changes lives, and it’s a win-win situation for you and the people you empower.
When you think of customer experiences you have had with your cable company, phone company, or services run by a governmental entity, what are your typical feelings?
If you are like many, the words frustrated, annoyed, or maybe even dreadful come to mind.
I had a recent phone conversation with my cable company to change my billing information for our monthly automated payment. Our debit card was compromised and I needed to give them updated payment information.
I thought this would be a simple conversation. Something like, “Hi my name is Brent and I need to update our automated payment information because our current debit card was compromised.” Then they would say, something like, "No problem, sorry to hear about that, let's take care of that right now."
I should have known better.
Instead this seemingly simple 3-minute phone call turned into a...
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