At our recent networking conference for our member agencies, my opening presentation was titled “Overcoming Our Fear of Risk”. Doing so is key to our future success.

When you compete in business, there is constant risk. Which means, of course, there is constantly something of which to be afraid.

However, as I shared on one particular slide, “In a changing market, the greatest risk is in not taking one at all.”

All too often, I think we feel we are doing something new (taking a risk) simply because we go out, spend a little money, and acquire new resources. And, to be fair, that is partly true. Spending the money for a new resource does give you the potential of delivering new value. However, that potential value will never be recognized until you step up and spend some of your “leadership capital” as well.

What is “leadership capital”? I believe it is the most valuable currency of all. Leadership capital is courage: the courage to take a stand, the courage to succeed. That last part may sound odd, and you may be wondering, “Who needs courage to succeed? Everyone wants to succeed!” Sure, everyone wants to succeed, but very few have the courage it takes to possess it for their own.

It’s not enough to decide you are going to do something new (take that risk); we have to be so committed to it that we willingly put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. To be more specific, we must all find the courage to take on some personal challenges.

Face Rejection – When you believe in a new path, rejection and challenges are a normal reaction from those who are impacted and are hearing it for the first time. Remember, objections/rejections usually mean “I don’t yet understand”, not “I disagree.” Believe so strongly in your ideas that you can quickly move beyond the initial sting of rejection and help your audience find a level of understanding themselves.

Connect – People don’t connect to leaders; they connect to the ideas of the leaders. And business is about connections – connecting to the right team members, partners, clients. Strong connections happen when you have the right conversations. Those with the greatest quality and quantity of connections are the ones who share their new ideas most openly, honestly, and frequently. They are the ones who win the game.

Be Present – Sharing an idea is great, but the actions speak even louder. It is not okay to introduce an initiative and then disappear. If you want others on board, you have to let others see that you are the first one on board and that you are on board more firmly than anyone else.

Be Genuine – We all know what the world tells us we are as insurance brokers. However, that model is no longer relevant given today’s challenges. Quit holding on to what you’re “supposed to be” and find the courage to go be what you “want to be,” what you “need to be” in order to secure your future success.

Be Imperfect – How often do you hear leaders say, “be innovative, take chances, fail, fail quickly, learn, and move on?” But, if the leader won’t allow himself to fail in front of the team, it becomes too dangerous for anyone on the team to make the attempt himself.

Give Tough Love – Challenge people to be honest – are they helping move you forward or are they holding you back? When you hold up the “mirror of honesty” is when you will get your greatest pushback. It is scary to have to be that honest. Which is exactly the reason you, as a leader – meaning someone of influence, not necessarily a title – have to be the first to look in the mirror.

Leadership capital is the most valuable of all for one simple reason: it is unbelievably rare. However, its rarity is surpassed only by its potency. Find the courage to spend the capital and you will find untold new riches. You can have those riches for yourself; you just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I really want it?”



This blog post first ran on Insurance Blogs | Zywave.

Photo by olegdudko