We need true insurance leadership now more than ever in the insurance industry.
Why is leadership so vital? Our clients need us at our best. Our communities need us at our best. Our organizations need us at our best. To be at our best, we must know how to lead ourselves so that we can lead others.
Leadership is often discussed, but rarely understood. For many years of my professional career I didn’t fully grasp the importance of leadership…..mainly because I didn’t fully understand it.
From 2000–2015, I worked as a commercial property and casualty producer for two large midwest insurance agencies. In 2003, I began to first understand the importance of personal growth and development, but it was many years after that before I realized that I was more than an insurance agent….I was a leader.
I firmly believed that the only way to be a leader was to pay someone’s salary. Leadership in my mind was a position that was appointed or awarded. A leader had power, prestige, and lots of money. As a young insurance agent, I felt that had none of those things.
Therefore, I didn’t spend any time learning about leadership or developing myself as a leader. Looking back, I realize that was a terrible mistake. However, several years ago, I read a description of leadership that I had never heard before and it completely changed my way of thinking. It came from my current mentor and #1 leadership expert, John Maxwell. He said,
“Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.”
One of the most influential leaders in modern history is the Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa was truly a humble servant and did not hold a lofty title or position. However, she was someone who demonstrated that leadership is truly influence, nothing more, nothing less. When Mother Theresa spoke, others listened. That is the sign of a true leader.
This week I am starting a 4-week MasterClass on the principles and practices of ethical influence. If leadership is influence, then I want to help insurance professionals understand and apply influence better in their everyday life.
In this 4-week “Becoming a Person of Influence” MasterClass, I will discuss the four levels of influence. Each level will be discussed in detail during this program, but here is an overview.
Level 1: Modeling
I have four children (#5 is on the way) and there is no doubt that children are influenced by what they see more than by what they hear. Modeling begins by living a life of integrity.
Integrity is the quality most needed to succeed in business. As my mentor states, “Integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, to people over things, the service over power, the principle over convenience, to the long view over the immediate.”
Trust is the single most important factor in personal and professional relationships. It is the glue that holds people together and the key to becoming a person of influence.
It’s easy to get caught up in looking good or saying the right thing, but if you really want to start to become a person of influence and lead with authority, you must walk the walk. That starts with modeling.
Level 2: Motivating
Being a motivational influencer means that you encourage people and communicate with them on an emotional level. Motivating is the next step of influence after modeling. Modeling can be done from a distance, but motivation is about getting closer so you can really make a significant impact on the lives of others.
Effective motivating comes through nurturing, listening, and understanding the people you want to influence. Think of people who have motivated you throughout your life. There is not doubt that these people made a long lasting impression.
Level 3: Mentoring
I have had several mentors in my life. Some have come from book and audio recordings, others from those I worked with, and others mentors I have paid so that I could grow and learn from them.
Mentoring is pouring your life into other people and helping the reach their potential. When you successfully mentor someone, you can see first-hand the impact you are making to help them achieve the results they want.
To be a high-level mentor, you must learn the enlarge people, become a navigator, connect, and empower others to be at their best.
Level 4: Multiplying
This is the highest level of influence and I believe is the most needed in the insurance industry today. Many insurance agencies are being bought out or are simply stagnant because they have not invested the time or energy into developing others.
To be a true leader, you must grow others while your grow yourself. Average organizations gain followers, while great organizations grow leaders.
Everyone has the ability to get to this fourth level of influence, but it requires unselfishness, generosity, and commitment.
Studies have shown that 85% of leaders produce followers, 10% of leaders produce leaders, but only 5% of leaders reproduce leaders.
There is significant power in multiplication. When you reproduce leaders you raise your influence to a new level, you raise your new leaders’ personal potential, you multiply your resources, and you ensure a positive future for you organization.
We influence someone everyday of our lives. Is your influence positive or negative? There is no neutral. You are either adding emotional deposits into others lives or you are making withdrawals.
Leadership is one thing…..influence.
It doesn’t matter if you are influencing your team, your clients, or your community; you have the ability and responsibility to become a person of “positive” influence in the lives of others.