I asked an insurance agency owner a few years ago about their goals. How did they envision their agency in the next 5 years? What I heard shocked me, yet as I talk with more and more insurance leaders, I realize that this attitude is far too common.
He said, “It today’s competitive climate, we really just want to maintain the status quo. We would like to grow, but if we can just keep what we have now and survive, that would be great.”
Really….status quo? While I understood what he was trying to tell me, I knew the truth.
This has never been more true than in today’s insurance landscape. Independent agencies in particular, are either gobbling up other agencies or they are the ones being eaten.
While that may seem harsh, it’s true.
As Jim Collins succinctly states in his best-selling book, Good to Great, “Good is the enemy of great.”
The insurance industry has one of the best business models every created. Even by accident, most insurance agencies will renew 85-90% of their existing business. This insurance business model provides financial stability (for a while), but it also can create an unhealthy “good enough” mentality.
This “good enough” mentality is what prevents many insurance agencies from being great. It’s also the attitude that is causing a significant number of insurance agencies to go the way of the dinosaur.
So why do so many insurance agencies settle for “good enough?”
I believe there are a number of reasons, but two main reasons come to the surface.
They haven’t developed leaders
The first reason, complacency, is often the result of simply thinking that the things that got you here will be the same things that will keep you here. If you think that’s true, go ask someone who used to work at Kodak, Blackberry, or any taxi company.
When I hear the words, “That’s the way we have always done it,” I know that agency is in trouble.
When you lose innovation and take things for granted, you become complacent. Complacency gets you stuck.
Complacency puts you out of business. Complacency is contagious. Don’t catch it.
The second reason is often a result of complacency. For years, many insurance agencies have built their business model with one or two leaders and multiple followers. While this model may work for a while, what happens with the leader wants to retire, gets sick, or simply gets bored?
The agency become stuck.
- Stuck trying to find people
- Stuck trying to keep people
- Stuck deciding if they even want more people
Here is the bottom line: You must learn to develop your people.
This is also the major problem for those agencies that want growth.
People are challenging. Developing people is hard work. You must put in the work of growing your people up front to avoid the pain of losing them (and your clients) on the back-end.
Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly.
How good are you at developing your people? Are you willing to put the time in and work at developing your people?
Here is a principle that I truly believe and have seen first hand.
As my mentor and leadership expert John Maxwell teaches in the Law of the Lid. “Your effectiveness will never surpass your leadership ability.” If your leadership skills are a 4 out of 10, your agency will never rise above a 4.
This means that to grow and develop others, you must first be willing to grow and develop yourself.
Leadership ability is a skill you can learn and develop. It’s never too late.
So let me ask you again, “Are you willing to put the work in?” “Are you ready to learn what true leadership is really about? ”
There is no status quo. You are either growing or dying.
The insurance industry needs strong leadership. Those willing to grow themselves and develop their team so that they can grow their business.
Invest time and resources into your own personal growth and development and then pour into others. Model leadership, motivate your team, mentor future leaders, and watch your agency not just survive….but thrive.
Everything truly rises and falls on leadership.