Are you an actuary or an actuary in training and need a leadership boost? In many respects, I see myself as a typical actuary. Compared to other actuaries, I don’t think I have any special natural gifts that set me apart for leadership. Despite feeling very average, I find myself having significant leadership opportunities and responsibilities.
So, how can we go from feeling average to leading with confidence and effectiveness? Whether I lead effectively would need to be researched from my team, but I do feel more confident leading than when I first started. So, one simple answer is leadership, like most skills, requires practice. Reading leadership books and networking with other leaders are good habits, but leadership is mostly perspiration rather than inspiration.
Real leadership is never about titles, rather it is about taking initiative, taking risks, and stepping forward. I’ve had actuarial interns display wonderful leadership during their internship. So, you have no excuse for not starting today practice leading.
Leaders lead in many ways. Some with innovative ideas. Others with rock solid dependability. Still some with amazing technical skills.
In the end, all leaders focus their vision on company goals, understanding the big picture. They are team players not needing personal glory but motivated by team success.
Leaders count all team members as assets. Everyone is moving the ball forward, even if only small steps. Leaders believe in their team and fight to preserve its effectiveness.
Leaders understand staff differences. Everyone is wired different and has different perspectives. Leader’s view these differences as assets not obstacles.
Leaders understand the absolute most important ingredient in the team’s success is the trust shared by team members. Trust doesn’t occur by arranging smart creatives in a room. Trust builds by effective candor. There is a time for brutal honesty and a time for cautious communication. Most communication is in between the two extremes. Leaders have the emotional intelligence to know how much to communicate and when.
Leaders consider the logistics of how the team meets. Are all team members on site or are some virtual. Leaders consider all aspects of communication to maximize each person’s contribution.
Leaders identify complexity and provide clear explanation of the challenges and solutions. Leaders don’t let fear drive the team. Rather, the focus is solid long term solutions.
I’m thankful for my teams. It’s never easy to see team members leave. However, as I see one of our team members leaving it reminds me some times growth requires change.
Actuaries, don’t underestimate your abilities. Don’t be shy. Move forward and lead.