Brightside's Derek Henry on leadership in the insurance industry
Right now in the UK our politics is stuck fast in factionalism, ideology and conflicting interests, creating public disquiet. Derek Henry, managing director of broking at Brightside, argues business is up in arms too, pleading with the government for certainty, purpose and a clear sense of direction.
In recent days, as parliament itself searches for direction, the figure of Winston Churchill is invoked, not least by our own prime minister.
The question is posed: “Where is our Churchill today?”
And: “What would Churchill have done?”In stressful times, it’s natural that people look around for leaders, for direction, for unity, for somebody who seems instinctively to know what is to be done.
It’s not just politicians in the dock. Whereas the public would previously look to other pillars of the establishment for leadership, neither business, nor the church, or even the professions, carry the clout they used to. Are social media influencers the emerging pillars in today’s society?
That the insurance industry struggles to get its voice heard on positive issues of the day is not new news. Research last month from Consumer Intelligence found that public trust in insurance has fallen sharply. It’s no wonder the public won’t listen to us if they don’t trust us and we don’t seem to be able to shake this off.
There are, nevertheless, business people who want to rebuild public trust in business, and have the toolkit to do it. For example, Blueprint for a Better Business is a charity that “helps business to be inspired and guided by a purpose that respects people and contributes to a better society”.
There are also many great examples of the work our industry does to support charities and communities.
Leaders in the insurance industry need to stimulate and encourage different ways of thinking and behaving in business, so that it can be seen as the force for good I believe we are.
It is important that people can continue to rely on our fantastic industry, with its strong purpose and clear values, as a unifying force in a world of uncertainty. To achieve this requires senior leaders to be open to mindset change, for example by seeing profit as an outcome of a brilliant business, not its sole raison d’être. Also, to be willing to ensure behaviours of respecting others and acting beyond self-interest are consistent.
Living up to these values is critical if the business community generally, and insurance in particular, wants to reverse the pattern of distrust and be famous for the good we do.