Care, Manage Your Time, Delegate, Praise, Motivate and Trust at American Income Life
Who we are as people is often tied to who we are as leaders. For a lot of us, our leadership style has its origins in our upbringing by parents who taught us to stand on our own two feet. When I complained to my father about how he would make me work on Sunday, he replied that “if you eat on Sunday, you also work on Sunday”. When I was allowed to go on my first vacation by myself, I had to work an entire month to earn the money I spent on that vacation. These lessons built character & endurance and bred leadership qualities.
We learn leadership through trial and error starting with our first promotions. What is the most important quality of a good leader? Having a personality of caring about people. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them, and in our case, how we retain most of them.
Leaders place enormous value on time management skills. In our case, we need to spend about a third of our time on making sure our recruiting is in play, another third on making sure our new and existing agents get and continue to get proper training, and the last third on promoting and talking about American Income Life and the opportunity. We also need to make time for family and vacation.
Therefore, we need to learn early how to develop our delegation skills. As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. We have to be good at helping people run their individual agencies, and we have to be willing to step back. Your company must be set up so it can continue without you.
In order for this process to work, your people must be happy. You must lavish praise on the people who work for you or with you at all times; if a flower is watered, it flourishes, if not, it shrivels up and dies. It’s much more fun looking for the best in people. Terminating an agent or a manager should seldom be an option.
Motivational strategies extend to innovative ideas. The key to encouraging innovation within the organization is to listen to any and all ideas and to offer feedback. People often leave companies because they are frustrated by the fact that their ideas fall on deaf ears. Interaction between us as leaders, the managers and the sale force at American Income Life is fundamental. Some 80 percent of our life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work? I think leaders have got to make a bigger effort to make sure the people who work for them are enjoying what they’re doing.
And then there’s trust! We need to develop a level of trust with our top managers by setting the direction and then stepping back to let them navigate. Our top managers have a stake in the company, and we need to ask them to run it as if it’s their own. Trust in managers and agents is particularly important as we look to continue to grow the company. Adding more leaders like you to the cache makes it that much more difficult, yet for AIL, NILICO and your individual agencies, expansion is always a priority.
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