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Thought leadership, insights, and success stories

Insurance Business Leadership: A Guide on How to Run Your Business


Earlier I shared my roadmap to running a successful business operation for industry professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and business leaders in a 7-step blog series. Whether you’re in a new role or thinking of starting up your own shop, the series provides a step-by-step guide to approaching your business and tips to be an effective leader.

Below is a roundup of each step to help you get serious about improving, running, and growing your insurance business. Read each post for more details and proven methodologies to put the steps into action.

1. Understand the Business Model

Start from a high level to get a sense of the products, services, customers, and competitors, so you can understand the formula in place for making money. Setting the right balance between what you offer and what you charge and grasping the fundamental business model – and whether or not that model is working as intended – will give you a solid starting point to approach the business and begin to set sights on its direction.

2. Assess the Current State

It’s vitally important to understand where the business is currently experiencing challenges or significant successes in order to accurately and confidently lead an organization. This is especially crucial for someone stepping into a new role, but also important for a leader who’s starting out on their own. Getting a full picture and specifics on customer personas, prospect and pipeline lists, current team structure, and competitor landscape will ensure you have a foundational understanding of the day-to-day operations and will enable you to ask important questions and make informed decisions.

3. Create the Vision

In its ideal state, when your team has closed the gaps and the main challenges are in the rear-view mirror, what does the business look like? Seeing that end state is a much different task than outlining the business strategy or tactics, and it is critical for leadership to realize this vision in certain, vivid terms. It’s your job to share this forward-looking state and rally your team to see the pathway to getting bigger and better and ultimately reaching that goal.

4. Balance the Constituents

There are multiple perspectives on what makes a business successful. Having insight into those diverse perspectives will allow you to operate in a balanced, strategic and truly ‘successful’ way. For most companies, it’s a combination of views from customers, owners, and employees. Each group values different outcomes and sometimes those goals can be opposing forces. As the organization’s leader, you are in the unique position to validate each group’s needs and desires and to balance what is achievable and necessary with what is ‘nice to have.’ Teams will appreciate that they’ve been heard and will be much more likely to support the mission if their input was considered.

5. Understand the Levers

The numbers driving the business can be intimidating, but at the end of the day, the two most important categories are ‘revenue’ and ‘expenses.’ Getting a handle on each of those and recognizing what the real ‘driving’ numbers are (i.e. what’s your biggest revenue generator?) and where you can have the most impact (i.e. what revenue generator could be enhanced with a little more strategy and attention?) ensures you know what you should be measuring, monitoring, changing, and where you should be spending your time.

6. Run the Operation

Now that you’re ready to get down to business, being organized will be essential to lead well and to do so with transparency. A highly-visible calendar, that sets the operating rhythm for the organization, as well as clearly defined metrics, will help your team stay focused and effective. If each part of the business agrees and adheres to key target dates and deliverables, the entire organization can track progress and hold each other accountable.

7. Motivate the Team

One of the toughest and most rewarding parts of being a leader is working with people. Navigating performance management, compensation, equity reviews, offering feedback, and helping people achieve their personal goals – while always striving for what’s best for the business – can be a balancing act, but one that is crucial to success. With a few tools, you’ll be able to assemble a strong, driven team.

Running a business is never straightforward – but it doesn’t need to be overly complicated, either. These steps provide an in-depth look at how you can continue to improve your insurance business acumen.

For more leadership tips and valuable industry insights from the RGAX team, subscribe to the blog.

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Written by: Raymond DiDonna

Ray DiDonna is Senior Vice President, Head of Underwriting and Claims, responsible for leading all underwriting and claims business lines for the Americas unit of RGAX. Ray has been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years holding leadership roles at various organizations including The Hartford Group, General Electric and Phoenix Life Insurance Company.

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