My post last week was about disaster preparedness for both agencies and their customers. To do what is necessary to create a plan to deal with the destruction of or severe damage to an agency’s offices or its surroundings and then to successfully carry out that plan will require leadership. As it turns out, there have been a lot of articles recently published in the newsletters that I follow on the subject of leadership.
Those articles range from a discussion of the five levels of leadership to the 14 qualities of a leader to how these ideas should be applied in the running of an insurance agency and more. The five levels of leadership are about measuring how many of the qualities of a leader a person may have. The article makes the point that before a person can lead others, they must be able to lead themselves. This involves the qualities of integrity, trustworthiness, diligence in performing the work assigned, and treating others with respect. Next a leader must be willing to be held accountable for their own actions, otherwise how they can hold others accountable. After achieving these two levels, the next step up the ladder of leadership is to lead by example, as actions always speak louder than words.
The next level may be the most difficult of all, as a true leader must be willing to accept responsibility not just for their own actions but for those of the people they are leading, whether good or bad. This requires courage and a certain amount of humility because things will not always turn out for the best. The final level of leadership is reached when a person becomes willing to speak out for what they think is best, since it is not always possible to lead just by example. To be successful at this level a person must be sensitive to the situation and the people involved in it and be able to make sound and timely decisions.
Perhaps the most important overall point to remember about what it takes to be a good leader is that people must believe that a leader cares about them and their ideas. If the leader is unable to establish such a connection with the people he or she wants to lead, it will be impossible to lead them, as opposed to order them around. Listening to what others have to say is helpful in establishing such a connection, but a good leader must not only be willing to listen to what others have to say, but be open to accept and act on that input. Being able to admit when a mistake has been made and it is necessary to change course is also helpful in establishing a connection with others.
For a view on what a good leader of an insurance agency should be seeking to achieve, see this recent post on the Property Casualty 360 website. It talks about how the leadership qualities discussed above should be applied to make an insurance agency more successful and profitable and in the process create higher employee morale.