As a former agency owner and the VP of Operations & Integration at Keystone Agency Partners, I’ve assessed a myriad of insurance agency leaders in my career, many of whom are represented within the leadership teams of KAP’s Platform Partners.
From my experience, I have found all of the great ones have one thing in common. They operate from that sweet spot where the courage of their convictions intersects with vulnerability. They believe with their whole heart and know with their entire mind that the path they’re taking is the right one. They make decisions and push their vision forward with this focus all the while remaining open and agile enough to pivot if needed.
So what does the intersection of courage of convictions and vulnerability look like? How can you know if you’re operating from this waypoint or if you’re not even on the map?
While not an exhaustive list, here are five of the best practices I have observed among great insurance agency leaders:
- When everything seems to be going right, it’s not it just means you’re not paying close enough attention. Great leaders know that there is ALWAYS more work to be done. More problems to solve and things to fix. What separates the great from the good is an ongoing evaluation of where you’re at, an audit of the work that still needs to be done, and the ability to prioritize what needs done now versus what should wait until later.
- Choose your team over your own discomfort. Great leaders have hard talks. I’ve never met one who couldn’t. They push aside their discomfort to move their vision forward. This is particularly hard in small businesses. When there’s only 20 employees there’s a dynamic of many independent agencies that further complicates office politics and workplace norms. The best leaders understand and address these nuances all the while keeping their eye on the vision.
- Confess early and often. Great leaders know that mistakes happen, and wrong decisions are inevitable. The key to greatness is the ability to admit it publicly, quickly, and move on. When leaders are candid about their errors and address things swiftly, they remove shame from the equation and create a culture for the rest of the team to do the same.
- Better to make a wrong decision than no decision at all. Complacency is the enemy of growth and success. Making a decision starts you and your team on a path. If it turns out to be the wrong one, you learn and adjust. (See #3 above.)
- Trust is the foudation of a winning team. The quarterback won’t throw the ball to you if they don’t trust you’ll catch it, and the coach won’t put it in the quarterback if they don’t trust they can throw it. When we let people in we demonstrate that we trust them. When people feel trusted and part of a team they will engage. And when fully engaged they will follow you to the ends of the earth.
There have been mountains of books and articles written on leadership, many addressing much of what I’ve briefly outlined above. I’ve read my share. If you’d like to further explore and are looking for recommendations, please connect with me on LinkedIn.
About the Author:
Bethany Snyder has more than 15 years of insurance industry experience that includes owning and operating her own insurance agency and advising to agency leadership teams at MarshBerry & Company. She specializes in collaborating with agency leaders to help them successfully leap to the next phase of growth. As the VP of Operations & Integration at Keystone Agency Partners, she takes a consultative approach with our aquired agency leadership teams to identify their growth objectives, set strategic priorities and build and implement the strategic plans to help them achieve their goals.