Leaders in every industry want to be “successful” at what they do—but they don’t always know how to get there. I personally feel the key to “success” is knowing the foundational principles (courage, integrity, planning, etc.) of leadership. They’re the attributes that will help you stand out from the rest, especially in the ever-busy insurance world. Learn these principles, incorporate them into your insurance agency, and you will almost certainly grow to become the successful leader you want to be.
In my opinion, these are the most important principles I have found to be successful in my agency:
We MUST recognize our teammates
If you don’t appreciate the people within your agency, they will leave you. An interesting fact is that the US Department of Labor reports that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated; that is why you must recognize your teammates. People have changed a lot in present times and you must be more conscious about recognition.
Become more visible
Being a leader is one thing but being a successful leader requires being available and accessible. You must make yourself visible and at their disposal. It’s not as simple as leaving your office door open—being approachable and visible is much more than that. Get out from behind your desk, talk to your teammates, and show a real interest in them.
Most people believe that a leader/manager/boss has to know everything, and have answers and solutions for every single situation. But truly successful leaders, the ones teammates remember the most, are those who are vulnerable and real about who they are, what they know, and how much they need the team to help them succeed. It’s okay not to know everything—just be honest and transparent. The key is the communication of not knowing, and that is the vulnerability.
Every agency (every business/organization) has problems, and people can get real negative real fast, that’s especially true these days with everything that is going on. Remember to always find the sunshine; search out and grab the good, the positive, the vision, and path to a solution when things go wrong. People admire that approach.
Speak up—be you
I have found from my experiences that some leaders don’t want to tell people what they are really thinking. They are so hyper-focused on being an inclusive leader that they lose their own voice and identity altogether. Yes, a real leader, a successful leader, speaks their mind and tells teammates what they think. Be you—be open to other options and opinions, but never hesitate to give your teammates a chance to learn from you and become more confident in their own voices. Every voice matters…EVERY voice!
A lot of leaders manage up and across; the best leaders manage up, across, and down. Great leadership engages in open communication which leads to trust! They engage with all teammates, no matter their position. Great relationships are built on trust.
Push the average/norm
I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in team meetings and heard a leader say, “If it isn’t broken, why do we have to fix it?” In my opinion, that isn’t leadership. The most successful leaders in our industry are constantly pushing the envelope, asking questions such as: How can we improve our agency and our team? Great leadership is always looking for opportunities.
Fight your fears
You may think successful leaders/agency owners don’t have fears. I can promise you that they do, but what makes them successful is that they know how to move through those fears. When you’re fearful of something, try asking yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” At that point, you can then work on finding a solution from that perspective.
Constantly challenge yourself
First off, everyone—and I mean everyone—needs an accountability coach. If you find yourself in a position of leading, or maybe wanting to lead, start right this second to challenge yourself daily in your confidence, your skills, and development. Never, and I mean never, allow yourself to think that you’ve arrived and got everything covered. A story of a company that did that was Blockbuster; and where are they today? Gone, out of business; a perfect example of why that is dangerous thinking. Every time you take a step forward, you have to challenge yourself to know more and become more.
Being good at what you do, whatever it is, takes perseverance (the never-quit attitude) and passion, and that’s especially true for those in leadership roles. If you love what you do, you will care about how well you do it.
The key ingredient—lead from within
To be a successful agency owner leader or manager, you have to know the important principles that make your teammates not only notice you but respect and trust you. Lead from within!