A successful leader at an insurance agency must be a jack of all trades. A great leader not only understands the business perspective of a successful insurance agency but also has to be a “people person” who has a good bedside manner, so to speak. It’s important to work well with others, be open and communicative and make sure to reward people for doing their jobs well.
Don’t Be a Dictator
Although respect from your employees is crucial to being a good leader, it has to be earned and returned. Don’t intimidate your employees with your title and power. You need to command a confident presence but not appear to be above their reach or closed off from communication. Maintain a corporate culture where your employees’ work and ideas are valued and where excellent initiative is rewarded.
Successful leaders must deflect attention away from themselves and not use their power to make others feel inferior. The office should be a place for collaborative effort. Encourage others to speak their minds, share their ideas and feel confident enough in their abilities to do so. Solicit feedback so everyone feels as though they are part of the process.
Foster a positive environment for your employees and make it known that you not only care about the business but also care about the people working there who are affected by the business. This can be done by actions or with words, such as providing continuous feedback to your employees and welcoming reciprocal feedback. Acknowledge employees for a job well done, whether it is a handwritten note or even with a raise or a bonus.
Lead by Example and Share Your Knowledge
If you want your employees to have a positive attitude and be motivated to do good work, you must also display the same characteristics. Set the tone for success by coming to work and conducting yourself in a positive manner. Having a bad day? Lose a huge client? Don’t let that reflect in your leadership abilities by snapping at your employees or taking it out on them. In turn, they’ll begin to internalize your negativity and may react the same way if they fail. If you turn a negative moment into a learning moment, they will be more inclined to do the same when it happens to them.
You didn’t get to where you are today by being unintelligent. You’ve learned valuable skills and obtained knowledge about the insurance business along the way. Don’t keep the secrets of your success to yourself. It’s important to share your successes—and even your struggles—with your employees. They can learn from your mistakes and apply the strategies and skills you used to earn your success. Never stop teaching and be self-motivated to constantly strive to be a student yourself. Show that there is always something new to learn every day; doing so will improve morale and prevent employees from feeling stagnant in their careers.
Perfect Your Communication Skills
Nobody is a mind reader, and most who try to do so are usually unsuccessful. Successful leadership requires giving detailed information to your employees about your vision for the bigger picture of the insurance company’s goals, as well as being clear and concise about your expectations in the day-to-day. It’s important to always remind your employees of the agency’s core values and mission statement because this ensures everyone is on the same page. If you have a project you plan on assigning to your employees, it’s important to give as much detailed information as possible up front to avoid wasted time going back and forth. If the expectations were clear in the first email, there would be no Q&A sessions, and there would be no possibility of any guesswork happening among your employees. This is important because if they guess wrong and try to fill in the blanks, they may have to start over from scratch, doubling the length of time a simple project could have taken.
Love What You Do
If you’re unhappy with your career, it shows in your work product, demeanor and leadership skills. No matter how hard you try to put on a happy face at work, your unhappy face will always show through. You need to love being a leader—not for the power but for the purposeful impact you can have on your career, on the business and on others looking to follow in your footsteps.
It is important to be intelligent, quick on your feet and an instinctual decision-maker who can anticipate business patterns. But those are not the only qualities you must possess to be a great leader; you must also be caring, supportive, a good communicator and an effective teacher. To be a successful leader, you must always be willing to be a lifelong student and never assume you know everything about your craft.