Agency Performance Partners


How to Lead an Insurance Agency: Be Looking at the Next 2 Years

Posted on June 8, 2022 by Alex Arellano

How to Lead an Insurance Agency: Be Looking at the Next 2 Years

Let’s face it: leadership in insurance agencies is tough, and most of the time, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Most of us came to insurance through different means, and from different places and backgrounds. And because of that, most of us also need to learn how to actually lead our insurance agencies. Today’s topic is about not only responding to problems, but also living in the future.

“If you can have other team members help with the day to day, the leader really needs to be looking out ahead of the skis and what might be happening and be building strategies and strategic visions around that. That’s how you’ll really grow.”

As leaders, we often fall into the position of “firefighter,” where we’re responding to emergencies left and right. While leaders are there to solve issues, firefighting shouldn’t be your main function.

Being reactive can take up time, energy, and resources, and distract you from accomplishing your goals.

No, instead, leaders should be thinking ahead, and spending their time planning their future.


Leaders: There When You Need Them

All leaders in insurance agencies know exactly what we mean when we say being a “firefighter.” Problems pop up all the time, and leaders tend to jump into action to solve them, reacting to the issues.

While that might be a helpful solution at the moment, the thing about leading an insurance agency is that it’s not just about being a firefighter. Even though some leaders definitely like solving problems, and coming up with solutions, putting out fires shouldn’t be the priority. 

The reality is that the bulk of your time as a leader has to be spent thinking about the future, and making plans for a year, two years, three years, and five years down the road.

Now, probably as a leader, depending on the size of your agency, there’s always going to be a component of firefighting. But leaders should be forward-thinking, and be setting goals and strategies, to help their agency succeed.


Thinking Ahead to the Future

What exactly should leaders be thinking about when they’re looking towards the future? There are plenty of questions that you can ask yourself, in order to think about the next few years in a productive and useful way. 

Those questions include:

“What are the potential roadblocks?”

“What are  the potential hiccups?”

“What do we want our growth to look like?”

By thinking in the future, you’ll be setting concrete goals and milestones, and can start taking real steps to get there. You can be strategic instead of hopeful, and clear out potential issues.

We talk about this a lot when we talk about recruiting.


The Recruitment Example

A great way to be a future-focused leader is to always be in hiring and recruiting mode. The reason we believe that is because you really never know what’s going to happen.

You don’t know whose family’s job might get relocated, who gets recruited elsewhere, who wants to get out of the industry. You simply don’t know what’s going to happen, and because of that, your job as a leader is to protect your agency, and always be looking for the top talent.

Now, that’s just one example of the benefits of thinking towards future goals, instead of solely putting out fires.

This example can be applied to making sure we have the best technology, the best markets, if we want to grow by 10%, if we need more producers. It simply means thinking ahead all the time, almost like you live in the future.

But of course, we have to remember that we can’t discredit the day-to-day operations in the process.


Handling the Day-to-Day

If you’re so focused on the future, what is going to happen to your day-to-day operations? How can you make sure these operations are under control, and that the problems that need to be solved are handled appropriately?

That’s when you lean on your other team members, to get help with those day-to-day operations. Your managers and other key team members can be identified as problem-solvers, and can be the ones charged with putting out fires. 

Of course, leadership should always be there when needed. But you should also be able to lean on your team for support.


Looking Ahead of the Skis

Think of insurance agency leadership as skiing down a mountain – you always want to be looking ahead, to see what’s coming up next and to build strategies and visions around that. That’s ultimately how both you and your agency are going to grow in a targeted, intentional way. 

Agencies that get stuck tend to get stuck right where they are, and they’re just putting out fire after fire. No one is proactive, everyone is reactive, and all that does is stunt growth.

This process can be exhausting, and it takes a lot more effort and energy than should be spent on problem-solving.

Another thing to keep in mind: if your agency is looking to add new leaders, you should definitely be looking out for who is fighting fires, and who is thinking ahead. Thinking ahead is a special skill set that not everybody possesses. Likewise, some people are able to continuously put out fires, without feeling burnt out.

But at the end of the day, leaders should be thinking about the future, making strategic plans and should leave the fire-fighting to other key employees.


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