The life settlement industry is undergoing a period of steady growth, fueled by demographic tailwinds and increased consumer awareness of the life settlement option as an alternative to lapse or surrender of a life insurance policy. But leading your business through a season of rapid growth can be just as challenging as navigating through adverse market conditions.
Heather Christie, an award-winning executive and leadership coach, challenged attendees at LISA’s 25th Annual Life Settlement Conference — held last month in Nashville, Tenn. — to provide the crucial leadership their organizations need in order to thrive in the years ahead. Christie’s keynote address, “Leading through Massive Growth,” shared key strategies to deal with negativity, disengagement or resistance in the workplace.
“Two out of every three workers in your companies are either not engaged or are actively disengaged,” said Christie. “This means they are doing ‘just enough’ to keep their jobs but would leave any day for another opportunity. What do you think it would look like if you could break through that negativity and find a way to pivot the mindsets of those employees, so they were working for the success of the company?”
Christie shared a new model for business leadership to help LISA members get their employees to take a much higher level of personal responsibility, which will hopefully lead to higher levels of engagement and achievement. She has branded this model “On The Court”.
The people in your organization who are “on the court” have made a conscious decision to take personal responsibility for everything under their control, explained Christie. Those who are “off the court” have disengaged from the success of the business and are likely to be sources of negativity, blame, complaints, excuses, resistance and perhaps even collusion with other employees to undermine the growth of the company.
“One of the top leadership responsibilities that you have is to help people get back on the court,” said Christie. “Not to judge them for their poor attitudes and not to blast them for their negativity in the workplace, but to help them understand they have an option to take ownership of their emotions and encourage them to get back on the court. The court is where all of the action is and where most of them want to be, they just need an influential leader to show them the way.”
Christie drew upon a wide range of professional experience to illustrate to conference attendees how they can best determine if their managers and other employees are on the court or off the court.
“The key is to recognize the individual’s state of emotions and whether they are positive or negative contributors to the business,” she explained. “The only thing you can control is how you respond to things that happen to you. You can’t control whether a prospective customer chooses to work with your company or a competitor, but you can control how you respond to that choice. You can’t control a customer’s anger over a problem that occurred, but you can control how you respond to that anger.”
The day following her keynote address, Christie translated these management principles into a practical workshop for life settlement industry participants. She led attendees through a series of exercises in order to determine one specific business strategy they wanted to implement within their organizations during the fourth quarter of 2019 (“Win The Quarter”).
Then she shared six tips for how to implement that strategy with a practical action plan:
- Carve out the time in your calendar to block out calls and emails, sit down at your desk and write out a plan for implementing your strategy.
- Create a 90-day action plan — not any shorter and not any longer — to take the strategy from idea to reality.
- Begin executing the action plan right away.
- Review your progress on a weekly basis and identify gaps in your progress that need to be addressed to stay on track toward your end goal.
- Don’t get distracted by the day-to-day noise and calendar demands that can derail your weekly progress reviews.
- Once you complete implementation of the strategy, set a new 90-day plan and continue the positive momentum.
“It is so tempting to set these sorts of management initiatives aside when we are in the trenches of business development and operations, so this will require you to pivot your mindset and reset your priorities,” said Christie. “But the truth is, it’s not enough to just work harder anymore, executives in the life settlement industry are going to have to think long-term about how they want to move their businesses forward in the next several years. The companies that are able to get more of their employees on the court, pulling in the same direction, will be best-positioned to succeed during a time of massive growth and opportunity.”
Additional Management Sessions
LISA’s Fall Conference featured two additional sessions that provided attendees with practical insights into day-to-day management challenges:
- “Calling All One-Person Marketing Departments” was a practical information session that shared tactical ideas for growing a life settlement business through smart digital marketing. Attendees learned about the importance of “inbound marketing” strategies that connect with prospective customers where they are. An immediate action step was to review your company’s blogging and content development plans to make sure that you are creating original content of interest to prospective customers or referral sources, then sharing that content as much as possible on your website and social media platforms.
- “Creating an HR Strategy to Scale” was a presentation that identified five key people challenges life settlement industry participants must manage to succeed as their businesses grow in the coming years: (1) Attracting top talent; (2) Leading an inexperienced management team; (3) Navigating employee performance issues; (4) Managing employee leave requests; and (5) Leveraging data-based decision making in the Human Resources function.