Tips to navigate the deep, lasting effects that change has on our relationships
Appreciating how you respond to the mistakes you make and missteps you take will be as important as the decisions you make that do go as planned.
By Meg McKeen, CIC
The only constant is change.
You’ve heard this before. But if change is happening all around us, and has been for all time, shouldn’t we be pros at navigating it? So then why does it still feel so heavy when we’re in it?
If you’ve been here in the insurance industry for a while, you’ve likely lived through a hard market before, and history shows us it will indeed shift again. We know it will, but indications point to this being the hardest of hard markets.
This time it just feels different. For example:
- Capacity for risk is reduced, and so is patience.
- Response times are longer, and so are the seemingly endless requests for more information.
- Claim severity is up, and so are stress levels.
Today we’re in it and are experiencing layer upon layer of change in an industry that sits squarely in a world that is layered with change, too.
The changes we’re navigating today have deep, lasting impact and affect our customers, our colleagues, and ourselves. As leaders, add the layer of responsibility, because we have to show up fully for the people—and the changes—we’re navigating in our lives and businesses.
It’s all a lot. So, as you’re considering your relationship with change today, let’s consider:
Honest communication. During a recent conversation, an insurance executive shared that he disagreed with a decision made by a more senior colleague. As they sorted out how they would share this upcoming change with their team, they knew well that the team would disagree with it, too—the platitudes, false hopes and sugar coating. No one would believe it; the team didn’t.
So, instead, they led with the truth: This change isn’t ideal; there are unintended consequences for some but not all. It won’t feel good, but it’s necessary.
In times of uncertainty, leaders have a real chance to lead with authenticity—to be the complex, thoughtful, feeling people that they are. To be human.
Is it a risk to expose this vulnerability? Yes. But it’s a risk, too, if you don’t.
Strength in sharing. Though you may feel it at times, you’re not alone as you journey through change. If you find yourself with decision fatigue or analysis paralysis—thoughts swirling and consensus never reached—make it a point to intentionally connect and share with another person. You may choose to lean on a colleague, a friend, or a more neutral third party, such as an executive coach.
No matter how you decide to share, when you give voice to your fears, confusion, uncertainty, and even enthusiasm for the change that’s to come, the weight and pressure of it lessens.
It’s important to note, however, that part of the responsibility you have as a leader is decision making. If you find yourself looking outward for validation, approval, or consensus, bring awareness to this tendency. You’ve been trusted with the authority to make decisions—and using that authority is exactly what you’ve been empowered to do.
Staying the course. Human beings value consistency and crave actions that follow the words spoken clearly by individuals in positions of leadership. Further, strong leadership is evidenced by those who can anticipate speed bumps and roadblocks and can make proactive decisions to slow down for or avoid them.
But be mindful of the motivation when you’re tempted to do either. Are you slowing or avoiding from a place of fear, or from a place of facts?
Particularly if you’re new in your leadership journey, or you’re navigating change you haven’t experienced before, a lack of experience or exposure might lead you to think you’ve made the wrong choice.
Bringing awareness that you might be pivoting too quickly or too often can help prevent you from undermining your consistency as a leader.
You’ve been trusted with the authority
to make decisions—and using that authority is
exactly what you’ve been empowered to do.
A final thought
Are you willing to risk being wrong? It’s a gut punch for me when I consider this—maybe for you, too.
Learning to trust yourself as a leader is key—and so is learning to forgive yourself. You won’t make the right decision every time. It’s not possible! Appreciating how you respond to the mistakes you make and missteps you take will be as important as the decisions you make that do go as planned.
So today, as you read this, know and trust that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.
Meg McKeen, CIC, founded Adjunct Advisors LLC in 2018 with the simple belief that we can and must do more to support the individuals who choose a career in the insurance industry. Her experience working for more than two decades in underwriting, leadership, and sales within the industry fuels her work as a consultant today, in which Meg now holds space, at the crossroads of personal and professional development, for insurance professionals as they grow their sales and leadership acumen and for organizations in the midst of cultural change. Meg’s work includes private and small group coaching, moderation and facilitation services, event speaking engagements, and the podcast she hosts, Bound & DeterminedSM. Learn more at www.adjunctadvisors.com.