We get the privilege of working with some outstanding agencies and great leaders who recognize that their role is to be constantly learning and elevating their firms.

1) They listen and communicate
These leaders meet with their teams to not only keep them informed with what’s happening in the business, but to seek their input before handing down decisions. They engage their teams in agency projects, take them on prospect and client meetings, and invite them to participate in developmental conferences. These leaders want their team’s input. They gather ideas and then make the final decision.

Bloomberg/file photo

2) They seek new outside ideas
These leaders are avid idea-seekers who encourage it in their teams as well. They love outside input because they know they’re not the only ones facing challenges and questions. Why re-invent the answers if they’re already out there? They love to ‘rob & duplicate’ whenever possible because it makes their jobs easier. It’s hard to lead clients when you have no new ideas to take to them.

3) They are willing to work hard
These leaders are the ones setting the pace by demonstrating what hard work looks like. They work smart and they buckle down on developing good business practices, even if some may be new and uncomfortable. They know that through change and discomfort, they’re rewarded on the other side because most aren’t willing to go there.

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4) They are willing to change their minds
The greatest ideas don’t always pan out, and sometimes the craziest-sounding ideas turn out to be just what’s needed. These leaders are open to the idea that their thoughts of today could very well be influenced by new information. And because they are so open to being a student of their business and exchanging ideas with others, they are prepared to be persuaded when the proof is evident. They don’t wrap their ego in their ideas, but rather recognize that the right idea is the best idea, regardless of its origin.

5) They make difficult decisions
Regardless of the new ideas they hear and the input they’ve received — enthusiastically supportive or fearfully negative — they know that the final decision lies with themselves. They are responsible for many people within their circle: staff, clients and all the families connected with them. They take the responsibility very seriously, but they don’t allow it to overwhelm them. They seek input and make a decision in the best interest of as many involved as possible.

And they know that not making a decision and ignoring things is still a decision — it’s just the coward’s way. These leaders always step up and take a stand, and because they talk to their team regularly, they help everyone understand the reasoning behind the decision, and help them move forward with acceptance and confidence.

Being a formal leader is a big responsibility. At Q4i we believe that all insurance agencies are in business to improve the businesses and lives of clients, and in order to help people improve, you have to be willing to lead. If you recognize the need to step up your game, then seek out people who possess these traits, study them, learn from them, talk to them. Your team and your clients are depending on you to do so.

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Wendy Keneipp

Wendy Keneipp

Keneipp is a partner and coach at Q4intelligence, driving agency transformation.