This week, Insurance Business hosted the Women in Insurance Summit in London, bringing together some of the brightest talent in the industry to help advance and empower women in UK insurance.
During a day packed full of speaker sessions and panel discussions came some significant insights from some serious industry names. We’ve rounded up some of the best pearls of wisdom on leadership from four key industry figures.
Sara Mitchell, head of middle market division, UK & Ireland, Chubb
“For me one of the most important things in leadership, and in communication, is authenticity. It’s being who you are. There are a lot of stereotypes that we look at, whether it be male or female, and think – in order to be successful, I need to look, feel, act like this person. The reality is, your own fundamentals, your morals, and how you are as an individual is how you got to where you are at the moment.
“Be brave, ask for the opportunities, ask for the feedback, put your hand up, ask the ‘stupid’ questions – don’t be afraid, because I can guarantee, if you ask the question there will be five other people in the room also wanting to know the answer too.”
Sheila Cameron, head of international operations, Navigators International
“Leadership is about creating that perfect team underneath you and getting the right balance among that team… When you’re building a team, always hire better than yourself – because you can’t be the expert at everything.
“When building that team, we need to look at who can fit into these slots that we’ve got on our team, and ask who is going to benefit most by moving into that role – instead of who has every single qualification, or 50 billion years of experience. Let’s ask ourselves who will benefit the most and develop the most as a candidate and a member of my team, because at the end of the day, I’m only as good as my team.”
Nick Frankland, UK CEO, Aon Benfield
“One of the big facets of being a leader is trying to be decisive. I think you have to really listen to your teams around you, and you ideally want teams made up of all sorts of different opinions. But your judgement is what becomes of value as you listen to all of that input around you, and you feel empowered or informed enough to make decisions. If you don’t make decisions, there’s simply no point in being a leader.
“I think it’s quite simple really – always keep learning and listening. We all give up, as we become leaders, our day jobs to some extent. You have to give up your day job and your natural skillset at various times in your career if you are going to push yourself further, and to do that means being very brave, but also being smart in how you conduct yourself.”
Carolyn Mackenzie, complex claims and strategy director, RSA
“Authenticity is an absolute key, as is being receptive to feedback and to keep seeking it. I’m often asked to mentor people and to help women, particularly at the early stages of their leadership career on confidence. I think there are two very distinct things here: self-confidence, and confident communication.
“Self-confidence is just believing in your skills and what you’re good at, being honest, seeking feedback, and looking to build your skills all the time… But confidence in communication is something quite different, and for me that can be a learned behaviour that you can develop over time and learn new techniques with. Don’t fixate too much on confidence – there are different elements to it. Being really clear on what it is you need help with and where you need to develop your skills is key to good leadership.”