Claims industry leadership plans performing better says expert

Published: January 30, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The claims industry is performing much better in terms of creating succession plans and developing leaders. Phil Cook, CEO of Omega Insurance Holdings Inc. says there has been an improvement in the industry compared to the past. He was speaking at the CICMA/CIAA Ontario Chapters’ 50th Annual Joint Conference on Monday.

During a panel on strategies for strong leadership for the Canadian Insurance Claims Managers Association/Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Cook pointed out that the industry is performing better than it has in “probably” 25 years. To develop stronger leadership, he says there should be a succession plan for all position through a company.

“Everyone should have a succession plan,” Cook claimed at the conference, which was called Leadership: Past, Present and Future. “I’ve had a succession plan for probably the last 30 years in various organizations.”

Cook also talked about how Canadian P&C companies are managing their succession plans, with  “the average age is way lower than it used to be. I think that’s extremely healthy for the industry. I also think it’s very healthy when two or three of those leaders in the top companies didn’t come out of the insurance industry,” he said, adding that “we don’t have parachute leaders coming.”

“I think in my experience, most of the, shall we say, ‘good’ leaders have been ones that have demonstrated leadership capability from a very early age or a different industry,” he suggested. “I think the trick as leaders when we look at successors is to spot those, not necessarily to develop them. Having said that, there obviously are skills that can be developed.”

There was also caution about when a leader should act and how accessible they make themselves, with Cook adding “And I’ve found out over the years that doing that isn’t doing a favour for the people who are asking you to make a decision.”

Cook told attendees that he uses the following motto: “If you can’t make a decision, I can give you a loonie.”

“If a lot of people have discussed it and can’t come to a decision, it means there is probably not a clear decision to be made,” he said. “My approach to that is if it’s that clear that it’s unclear, you might as well flip a coin and then turn it into a decision after you’ve made it.”