This week, our team at First National Insurance had a very open, honest and healthy conversation about empowerment. There is a hunger for it at all levels of our organization, which I am thrilled to see. At present, too many decisions are made by top leaders. This has resulted in an unhealthy culture where too many teammates are afraid to make decisions. They think “that’s not my problem” and defer the decision to someone else. A much healthier culture fosters a feeling of empowerment, where the teammates say, “I’m going to try to solve it, and if I can’t, I’ll see that it gets solved.”
I’m committed to championing the empowerment cause and modelling the needed behaviors. At stake is our existence. Without empowered people in the trenches serving clients, we will not survive the imminent change to our industry.
The insurance industry is at a crossroads. There are those that want to preserve the legacy model, which is broken. Investment capital is flowing into new business models that cut out the “middle man”, i.e. the insurance broker. “Old school” brokers that offer little value will be replaced by automation. “New” brokers who intimately know their customers, serve them in a hospitable manner and do things that artificial intelligence can not will survive.
Our mission is to become “The City upon a Hill” of the insurance brokerage industry. We are the light of an antiquated industry, a team of people serving with a sense of purpose, not merely doing a job. The only way to sustain that momentum is to empower people in the trenches, the ones who serve clients day in, day out.
The flip side is that with empowerment comes great responsibility. Mindsets have to shift from being an employee to being an owner, and there is a huge difference between the two mindsets. Owners care about more things than employees care about. It’s not that they care more, rather they care about more, and what you care about determines what you can be trusted with.
The bottom line is that empowerment is a two-way street. The only way to get people to think like owners is to give them ownership. And they must accept the responsibility that comes with it.
People on the front lines are essential to our future success and survival. By empowering them to think like owners, they will solve problems “people at the top” don’t even realize exist. That’s a key ingredient to moving hearts toward the mission.