A First-Time CEO Talks About Lessons Learned in His First Year

Gaining the respect and trust of your team is critical. How did you achieve that?
“That’s the million-dollar question for every leader. One attribute I have always been credited with is authenticity. i don’t pretend to be anything I am not. I am the same way at work as I am at home with my wife and children. Our job as leaders is to break the title down. I know my own humility and where I come from. I try to have an open and honest dialogue. My ‘say/do’ ratio needs to be high. I am a strong believer in that teams win and lose as a team. I use the word ‘we’ more than ‘I’ because it’s the complementary skills around the executive table, in aggregate, that will win and decide the game for us.”

“You’ve got to make time to understand your shareholders, your customers and your board.”

What new initiative are you spearheading now?
The insurance industry is not particularly tech forward, but our customers want us to play a more active role in bringing new technology to them, so I’ve put an emphasis on innovation. Even if the technology is not ours, if it’s relevant for the insurance industry, we’ll introduce it to our customers. For example, using an electronic signature. That came directly from what I heard during the listening tour.

What advice would you give to other new CEOs?
“You’ve got to make time to understand your shareholders, your customers and your board.”