Viewpoint: The leadership blueprint | Business Insurance

Agile, creative, flexible, innovative and patient. These are some of the attributes that can help executives successfully deal with challenging insurance markets, according to Business Insurance’s 2023 Break Out Award winners when we asked them: What’s your advice on navigating the current insurance market? 

Creativity and innovation were common themes as honorees spoke about how hard insurance markets and emerging risks require different approaches and solutions. Building on the momentum to develop alternatives, evolving technologies such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence are changing the risk landscape and helping to provide answers. One honoree noted that the industry is more open to new ideas and that there’s a need to take advantage of that shift. Another responded that the focus should be on strengthening technology and the talent that supports innovation to drive business growth. 

In what is a fluid and dynamic market environment, it’s notable that relationships remain highly valued and regarded as the bedrock of successful transactions. After emerging from a prolonged period of virtual handshakes, many of the award winners remain committed to developing strong relationships, even while embracing the advances that digitization brings. “We’ve got to get back out and build our networks,” one honoree said.

Interestingly, business relationships aren’t limited to being between broker and client or insurer and policyholder. Several award winners pointed to the importance of developing connections that encompass all parts of the market and potential partners, which perhaps underscores the need to try multiple avenues and options to secure the best outcomes for customers, whether in procuring coverage or working through a claim. 

Sustainable relationships also need to be backed and nurtured by hard and soft skills. Several award winners acknowledged the importance of developing technical knowledge and expertise, not necessarily by going to school to learn insurance, but by being receptive to learning on the job and sharing information. By getting ahead of trends and staying informed, honorees said they are better able to educate customers on market changes.

So-called people or interpersonal skills are as critical as knowledge in difficult insurance markets, though. Listening to others — not necessarily easy to do when faced with yet another round of premium increases or unexpected losses — requires understanding not just what risk managers are up against, but also what the markets’ concerns may be, one award winner said. “We always have to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes to understand what they need,” another said.

As critical as listening is the ability to openly communicate good and bad news. Communicating what you know when navigating markets in a state of flux is helpful to manage customer expectations, several award winners said. Transparency and honesty, it seems, are more respected and appreciated than making promises that can’t be delivered. Knowing when and how to say no and being open about what you can and cannot do is a little more important in this market, one award winner said. “When every stone is overturned and every option is exhausted, it really comes down to communicating with both our carrier partners and our clients,” another winner said.

It’s that fearlessness that has buoyed this year’s cohort of BOA winners along their impressive career paths to-date. That willingness to be bold and creative will drive them forward in their careers regardless of insurance market conditions.




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