David Lane, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group MD
What I wish I had known before I started
I spent the best part of 20 years in insurance and financial services for US-owned companies in Ireland, UK and across Europe before joining Ecclesiastical Insurance three years ago. My experience has taught me that there is no set formula for success and that each person needs to develop their own leadership style.
Be yourself and believe in your own ability
There are lots of books on leadership and how to run a successful business. There are also plenty of fantastic role models for people to learn from but I think to be successful it is really important to be yourself and develop your own unique style.
Henry Ford said: "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are probably right" - and that summarises my belief nicely. You have to have the right attitude and a belief in your own ability.
Build the best team
A lot of insurance roles are very technical and it is a prerequisite for people to have the right qualifications. However, I have found that it is equally important, particularly with more senior roles, to hire people with experience and whose personality fits the culture of the organisation.
I also want people who are going to challenge me and the business so that collectively we become stronger. Once you have recruited the best people, it is really important to trust them to do their jobs and deliver on their personal - and our collective - objectives. It takes time to learn to delegate but you will not be successful without it.
Having a clear vision for what you want to achieve - as an individual and as a company - is really important. The company vision helps to unite the team and give people clarity on our core purpose.
The vision for the Ecclesiastical Group - "Together we will be the most trusted and ethical specialist financial services group, giving £50m to charity over three years" - brings together what we are trying to achieve and how we want to achieve it.
Know your numbers
It is easy to get caught up in lots of key initiatives but ultimately a business needs to generate an appropriate return to be successful.
I learnt early in my career the importance of knowing the key financial metrics of the business, where we were in relation to our plans and what we needed to do to deliver them. It helps to keep people focused on the right areas. We need to generate sales and grow our top line but success is dictated by the bottom line.
Get out of your comfort zone
I am constantly challenging myself to develop my understanding and to learn more about our core sectors. I spend as much time as possible with customers, prospective customers, associations and groups and am constantly learning more about them.
Ecclestiastical Insurance is a specialist insurer in the heritage, faith, and charities sectors.
Sunday Indo Business