We get the privilege of working with some outstanding insurance agencies and great leaders. They’re not outstanding and great because they already know everything and don’t need any help – quite the opposite. They recognize that their role is to be constantly learning and elevating their firms.
See which of these traits you or your leaders currently have and which ones you may need to work on developing.
They listen to and communicate with their team
These leaders meet regularly with their teams to not only keep them informed with what’s happening in the business, but to seek their input before handing down decisions. They engage their teams in agency projects, take them on prospect and client meetings, and invite them to participate in developmental conferences. These leaders want their team’s input. They gather ideas and then make the final decision – it’s not a democracy – but everyone feels like they’ve been a participant and accepts ownership of the decisions when they’ve been made.
They seek new ideas outside of their agency
These leaders are avid idea-seekers and they encourage that in their teams as well. They love outside input because they know they’re not the only ones facing challenges and questions. Why re-invent the answers if they’re already out there? They love to R&D (rob & duplicate) whenever possible because it makes their jobs easier. It’s hard to lead clients when you have no new ideas to take to them.
Reading: They read books, industry publications, and business publications. Ideas can come from anywhere and if you’re not always reading, you’re not keeping up.
Conferences: They attend industry conferences to keep up on industry issues and trends and network with industry connections. They know that they don’t have all the answers and they need to know people to whom they can turn to when the need arises.
Groups: They participate in learning/discussion groups that help them elevate their business and industry knowledge and look for ways to challenge their current thinking and ways of operating.
Social media: They log onto one or two accounts (e.g., LinkedIn; Twitter; Facebook) to keep up with what their clients and prospects are sharing, read articles relevant to their business and their clients’ challenges, look for new people to make connections with, and leave comments to share their ideas with their audience while establishing themselves as an authority.
They work hard and they work smart
These leaders are the ones setting the pace by demonstrating for the team what hard work looks like. They know how to work smart and they buckle down on developing good business practices, even if some may be new and uncomfortable. When they make a commitment, they stick to it, even if it’s hard. They know that through change and discomfort, they’re rewarded on the other side because most aren’t willing to go there.
Gone are the good ol’ boy days of the two martini lunches, and right behind them are all-day golf outings “disguised” as client meetings. There is just simply too much to do for both the advisors and the employers for this to be a good use of time anymore. Relationships are still built and are an incredibly important part of the equation, but the relationships are now built on the advice and value delivered to the client.
They are willing to change their minds
The greatest ideas don’t always pan out and sometimes the craziest sounding ideas turn out to be just what’s needed. These leaders are open to the idea that their thoughts of today could very well be influenced and swayed by new information. And because they are so open to being a student of their business and exchanging ideas with others, they are prepared to allow themselves to be persuaded when the proof is evident. They don’t wrap their ego in their ideas, but rather recognize that the right idea is the best idea, regardless of its origin.
They step up and make difficult decisions
Regardless of the new ideas they hear and the input they’ve received – enthusiastically supportive or fearfully negative – they know that the final decision lies with themselves. They are responsible for many people within their circle: staff, clients, and all the families connected with them. That’s a big responsibility and they take it very seriously, but they don’t allow it to overwhelm them. They seek input and make a decision in the best interest of as many involved as possible.
And they know that not making a decision and ignoring things is still a decision – it’s just the coward’s way of pretending to avoid responsibility. But these leaders always step up and take a stand, and because they talk to their team regularly, they help everyone understand the reasoning behind the decision, and help them move forward with acceptance and confidence.
Being a formal leader is a big responsibility. At Q4i we believe that all insurance agencies are in business to improve the businesses and lives of clients, and in order to help people improve, you have to be willing to lead. If you need to step up your game in some of these areas, then seek out people who possess these traits, study them, learn from them, talk to them. Your team and your clients are depending on you to do so.
Photo by © Retrostar.