We Need More Leaders, Not Managers

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
― Peter F. Drucker

Many industries—music, publishing, TV, movies—are experiencing rapid change and disruption. The insurance industry is very conservative and slow to change. But it, too, is being disrupted at a pace more rapid than at any time in the past.

Consumers’ expectations of a good customer experience have adapted because of changes other industries have made. Technology is impacting the industry more than ever and will change the products and services offered. For example, telematics and other related safety technologies have begun to have a dramatic effect on automobile insurance—both for personal and commercial customers.

During periods of rapid change and disruption, it is difficult to figure out what needs to stay the same and what needs to change.

We need more leaders in the insurance industry.

How do you define a leader? A leader is someone who has a vision, is capable of inspiring others so that this vision becomes a common goal, and is able to get people to work as a team to achieve things that would be out of reach if they worked individually.

My friend Michael Hyatt says, “Leaders exist to create a shift in reality. Without leaders, things drift along. They go where they want to go, following the path of least resistance. However, when this is not desirable—or acceptable—you hire, elect, appoint, or become a leader. The leader’s job is to overcome resistance and make things flow in a different direction. His or her job is to create a different reality.”

We need leaders to set a clear vision for how the industry needs to adapt. Leaders will help us better understand what consumers will demand in the future and will be able to shepherd change through their organizations. This applies to all sectors of the insurance industry. Insurance agency owners need to become leaders of their organizations, not just great salespeople. Insurance companies need leaders to overcome resistance within their organizations to make sure the right things are being done. And insurance technology vendors need leaders to set a clear vision for how the industry can embrace technology to deliver a great customer experience.

The insurance industry is generally risk-averse. Daily, we see the consequences of bad decisions—accidents, fires, injury. Thus, it becomes harder for us to make the change that is necessary within our own organizations because we’re afraid of failing.

A leader understands that failure is part of the process of change. In fact, failure needs to be embraced. Failing fast, learning from your experience, and applying that information is key to being able to manage the massive changes that are going on, not only within the insurance industry, but across society.

Organizations that identify and encourage leaders will be successful in the future and able to manage disruption well.

Are you a leader? Or, are you a manager? Are you helping your organization create a shift in reality? Or are you burying your head in the sand and only making sure that you are doing things right?

We need more leaders to help all of us understand the “right things we need to do.”

Steve Anderson provides information to insurance agents about how they can use technology to increase revenue and/or reduce expenses. He speaks professionally to hundreds of agents each year on the future of technology, the social web, and how insurance agencies can establish their Internet presence.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “We Need More Leaders, Not Managers

  1. In my mind, one of the key differentiators that separate leaders from managers is the ability to make hard strategic decisions. While good managers excel at increasing efficiency and productivity, they all too often fail when it comes to strategy.

    And like you said Steve, this industry is being disrupted by the rapid pace of change. That’s why we need real leaders. Leaders who have the chutzpah to say, “Efficiency isn’t our primary focus anymore. Strategy is. We must find a way to delight our customers and offer them something they can’t get from GEICO or Progressive. Otherwise we’ll be ‘efficient’ at digging our own graves.”

    Thanks for the post.