Leadership And Communication Can Make Or Break An Agency
Strong leadership and effective communication–or a lack thereof–are two key management skills that can make or break an independent insurance agency, one top company trainer says.
Sound leadership is critical in making an agency’s producers and staff feel needed and involved, according to Patricia A. Murray, assistant vice president and director of education for Commerce National Insurance Services in Mount Laurel, N.J.
Indeed, providing leadership within an agency is considered so important in some circles, said Murray, that the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., has created a new certification called the Chartered Leadership Fellow program for life insurance agents.
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A leader, in the simplest sense, sets goals and says “thank you” to employees, Murray said. But while many agency managers may be aware of this, they have failed to use their good leadership skills for a while, she added. Murray spoke at the first joint conference of the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey and New York, held recently in Atlantic City.
A good agency leader is also a manager who gets his or her hands dirty with everyone else, pitching in when help is needed. “Everyone appreciates that kind of manager.”
Having a poor leader–someone who does not set the proper tone within the office and does not attract new people, whether they are new employees or new clients–is one major reason agency employees end up leaving their jobs, she added.
Some of what a leader needs to provide, Murray pointed out, is an atmosphere where employees feel appreciated and, where possible, feel there is opportunity for growth.