Several years ago, I was speaking with an insurance agency principal about the future of the agency. This is a profitable agency with a solid history and equipped with the tools and resources to surge ahead.
I asked the principal his goals for the agency over the next 5–10 years and his answer surprised me. Instead of talking about growth and expansion, he spoke about maintenance and survival.
As I travel the country speaking with agency leaders, company representatives, and other thought leaders, I have come to realize that this mindset is all too common.
In fact, I believe that a high percentage of insurance agencies today are not focused on explosive growth, but instead are simply trying to keep their head above water.
So why are so many insurance agencies stuck?
Well, there could be many reasons agencies are stagnant, but I believe one stands out.
Insurance agencies have spent too much time adding followers and not enough time developing leaders.
Maintenance or Multiplication?
A high number of agencies live in maintenance mode. Instead of trying to make progress, the goal is to simply to avoid losing ground. That is the lowest level of agency leadership. To gain influence and move from maintenance to multiplication, you must learn to develop your people.
There are five stages that exist between maintenance and multiplication.
One of the most common phrases I hear when speaking with agency leaders around the country is, “We just can seem to find and keep good people.” Typically the rationale is that people today don’t want to work as hard as they used to or that young people don’t like insurance.
While both of these reasons may carry some level of validity, the truth is that they are not doing anything to develop their people. As a result, the attrition rate is off the charts.
Around 20% of agency leaders live on the lowest level of leadership development. These are the agencies are typically scrambling to find people to compensate for the ones they are losing.
This level of leadership causes extreme frustration, low morale, and exhaustion.
The next stage of agency leadership development is survival. This accounts for about half of the current insurance agencies.
The survival stage is often due to a level of complacency from leadership that migrates throughout the agency. Often times, people show up only to collect a paycheck. The agencies may have employees who have been a part of the agency for many years, but there has been little to no growth and development.
The agency is average at best and employees are general apathetic. The leadership approach is generally, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The problem is that this stage of agency leadership is broke and does need to be fixed….they often just don’t want to.
There is little hope or optimism in survival mode and the focus is generally on analyzing problems vs. creating proactive solutions.
The next stage of agency leadership development may be one of the most frustrating. That’s because this is the stage where agencies have done some work to develop their sales producers, customer service representatives, and managers, but they have neglected to build ongoing relationships with them.
Therefore, emerging leaders leave the organization to pursue other opportunities. Although emerging leaders can and do leave any agency, this level of leadership often misses an opportunity to build rock solid relationships. Emerging leaders feel equipped, but not appreciated or empowered.
A smaller number of insurance agencies reach this important leadership level called synergy. Synergy is hard to describe, but you can feel it when agencies have it. In fact, I can feel positive synergy the minute I walk into growing and profitable agencies.
Synergy occurs when the agency leaders build strong relationships, develop their people, and empower them to reach their true potential. This is the level where the high performing agencies function.
Synergy agencies have people who get excited to come to work because there is high morale, great energy, progress, and momentum. Personal egos are pushed aside for team growth and development. Therefore, everyone wins.
At the very top-level of agency leadership develop is significance. My leadership mentor believes that only about 1% of organizations reach this level. After synergy, many agencies feel that they have accomplished their mission, but significance is the last step.
Significance is where multiplication occurs.
Leaders of significance develop and reproduce leaders who stay with the agency, help them reach their potential, but there is one more critical area that occurs when agencies reach significance.
When you attain this level you can tap into almost limitless growth and influence potential. More importantly, you can change the lives of your team members, you community, and the clients you serve.
So how to you move from maintenance to multiplication?
If you are an agency leader that is stuck in the scramble, survival, or siphoning stage, how can you begin to move forward in your leadership development?
The first step is mindset. Begin to commit to developing leaders, not followers. Everyone organization needs followers, but desperately seeks leadership. It’s been said, “The function of a leader is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
Next, you must commit to developing yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have. Do you have a personal or professional growth plan? Are you investing in yourself?
Lastly, you must become a mentor. If you want to develop more leaders, grow your agency, and become an agency of significance you need to mentor others.
Pour yourself into others, empower them, share your experiences, and then release them to go out raise up other leaders.
Every day, is a chance to sow seeds into those around you. This process….and it is a process takes time. Nothing happens overnight. Robert Louis Stevenson stated, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant. ”
If you are ready to take move your agency from maintenance to multiplication a great next step is registering for my Agency Leadership Catalyst Program. Gather 6-12 of your key influencers for a one-of-a-kind leadership assessment experience that is both powerful and fun.
I want to leave you with one last thought I learned from my mentor.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership. When you raise up and empower leaders, you positively impact yourself, your organization, the people you develop, and all the people their lives touch. Reproducing leaders is the most important task of any person of influence. If you want to make an impact you have to be committed to developing leaders.”