By Roger Sitkins
ARE YOU AN EXEMPLARY LEADER OR A MODEL HYPOCRITE?
Saying one thing and doing another is not a great way to lead your agency
We’ve all heard the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do!” However, saying one thing and doing another is not a great way to lead your agency. Yet so many agency leaders do just that—they say one thing and do another. By definition, this makes them hypocrites; the definition of a hypocrite is: “A person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.”
Great leaders make promises, keep promises, and exceed promises. … What about you? … Do you lead by example, or do your actions belie your words?
To operate an agency in a hypocritical manner reflects radical mismanagement that ultimately undermines an agency’s profitability. Time and again at so many agencies I see the same telltale behaviors of hypocritical leadership, including:
- Saying that all team members should ask for referrals and introductions, yet never doing so yourself. In fact, many agency leaders don’t even know how to ask for a referral or an introduction. Do you?
- Stressing the need for everyone to maximize the automation system and all of their apps, but not doing so yourself. If you’re an owner, I’m not suggesting you become a techno-wizard or computer genius, but as the agency leader you need to embrace automation. If you haven’t even mastered the basics, you’re being hypocritical.
- Encouraging everyone to work on their pipelines while ignoring your own. Typically, owners have the biggest natural pipeline and yet they rarely work it. It’s a natural pipeline because owners are usually well established and connected in the community. They’re well known by tons of people they haven’t called yet. If you’re an owner, I have a quick test for you. Stop what you’re doing and write down the names of five people who would gladly take your call. If you’re like most agency owners, that was a pretty easy exercise. So why haven’t you called them? In fact, call the top two as soon as you’ve finished reading this article.
- Emphasizing to producers the need to maximize TSS (Time Spent Selling) while minimizing your own. By telling producers that every hole in their schedule is a lost opportunity, agency owners who adhere to my Producer’s Perfect Schedule stress the need for them to make 10 appointments per week with clients, future ideal clients and centers of influence. During the same time, most owners have scheduled only one or two appointments. Owners should never tell producers to do things they aren’t doing themselves.
- Establishing a MAS (Minimum Account Size)
- and a TAS (Targeted Account Size) but personally not adhering to it. All too often, owners are the first to violate this rule by trying to justify why they should be an exception to it. That’s hypocritical. As a leader, that’s not the kind of example you want others to follow.
- Saying that everyone must know the agency’s 30-second commercial, yet you don’t. You couldn’t stand in front of your producers and present your agency’s 30-second commercial. It may sound like a no-brainer, but most agency owners never practice their “elevator pitch.” As a result, they forget what distinguishes them from other agencies.
What are the top three reasons that people should do business with you? It’s pretty simple if you just fill in the blanks. Here’s a quick and easy way to help you develop your 30-second commercial. Fill in the blanks: “Business owners come to us when they’re frustrated by (list three things) and we help them by (name three ways).”
- Telling your producers about the importance of relentless preparation and presentation rehearsal but never rehearsing a presentation in front of your team. What’s more, you’ve never recorded any of these all-important rehearsals—not your producers’ and certainly not your own!
- Singing the praises of pre-briefs and de-briefs but never doing them. Of coursethey’re a great idea, but as the leader you’re too busy to bother with them.
- Expressing your concerns about digital disruption and the need to focus on relationships, not transactions, but doing nothing to address these concerns. You have no relationship management program or development plan in place for your A and B clients, future ideal clients, or centers of influence.
Speaking of future ideal clients, you’ve suggested—but not demand-ed—that every producer have a Top 20 list, yet you don’t have one! I’d say that’s pretty hypocritical, particularly because you probably have the best prospect list of anyone in your agency.
- Knowing that every producer, if not every team member, should do some sort of formal Sunday Evening Review, but not leading by example. You tell your team it’s the best way to prepare for a productive week ahead and be your Best Version Possible, yet you never seem to find the time to do your own review. Instead you get to the office on Monday and wonder what’s going to happen because you haven’t bothered to debrief last week and pre-brief the week to come. You have no strategy in place to ensure that you have a great week.
One of the most effective ways to eliminate hypocrisy is to have Performance Agreements in place for all of the key functions in your agency. Unlike employment contracts, these are documents that outline the agreed-upon habits, behaviors, strategies and results expected from the agency’s team members.
Unless you put it in writing, there’s no accountability. Everyone will do what they want to do because there’s no “Agency’s Way” of doing business. Conversely, if you have a written agreement in place and don’t adhere to it yourself, you’re a hypocrite!
Great leaders make promises, keep promises, and exceed promises. Great leaders are role models. What about you? What’s your management style? Is it hypocritical or beneficial to your agency? Do you lead by example, or do your actions belie your words?
Most promises are believable until they aren’t kept. Do your employees frequently make promises they don’t keep? If you as a leader are making promises you’re not keeping, your employees are probably doing the same thing with their clients and fellow team members. They’re even less likely to keep promises if they’re not held accountable.
The Best Version Possible of your agency and you as a leader should be the antithesis of hypocrisy. First you must have a vision of your BVP, and then you must document it. Above all, you must honor and adhere to what you’ve put in writing. To do anything less would be hypocritical.
Roger Sitkins is chief executive officer of Sitkins Group, Inc., and developer of The Sitkins Network and The Better Way Agency program. Roger began his career by working in his parents’ agency in Wyandotte, Michigan, and over some 40 years has become an icon in the industry. He has trained and mentored thousands of insurance professionals. Producers, CEOs, and sales managers with diverse levels of experience have benefited from his training and leadership.
Roger was inducted into the Michigan Insurance Hall of Fame in 2017 and that year also received the Dr. Henry C. Martin Award from Rough Notes magazine. Roger is one of only six industry professionals to have been honored with this prestigious award.
Recognized as the nation’s top agency results coach, he believes that if you improve the life of one person, you improve the world. To learn more, visit www.sitkins.com.