Hallmarks of a Winning Team Leadership

Football players huddle around football

I recently read a magazine article wherein a current NFL head coach outlined his philosophy for developing a winning football team. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but notice the strong connection between his philosophy and the core tenets of Great American’s Environmental Division. I wanted to touch on a few of the strongest correlations below:

Building Strong Relationships

While our core functions are to underwrite and sell environmental insurance products, as well as adjust any resultant claims, the business we are really in is the relationship business. Developing and maintaining relationships with our brokers, attorneys and consultants is the unquestioned foundation of everything we do. While there is no playbook for developing a relationship, we focus on a few key fundamentals. One is to understand what works best for a person and then to engage in regular, consistent contact based on their preferences. In today’s social media-driven world, there are many ways to reach out. Knowing what works best for the recipient and using that form of communication will help to ensure that the person will not only receive the message but also respond eagerly and accordingly. Another key is to get to know the person outside the context of business being discussed. It is always nice to start a conversation by asking, "Did you enjoy your trip...?" or “How was your daughter’s softball game?” Finally, find some common ground. It is always easy to talk about mutual interests and likes.

Communicating effectively

Male and female meeting in large conference room

It is not enough to simply communicate. The communication must be effective. The first key is to fully understand what is being communicated to you. As a lawyer, I would always tell my clients to make sure you understand the question you are being asked before you answer it. Likewise, we tell our insurance professionals that in order to communicate effectively, make sure you listen to and comprehend what the other person is trying to communicate to you. The communication needs to be purposeful. A response to a request for a proposal that says, “I’m working on it” is not effective. It should go without saying the underwriter is working on the proposal. We direct our employees to provide, if possible, a time frame for when the proposal will be submitted and to indicate what, if any, additional information may be needed. Finally, the communication should be useful. We engage in regular training sessions so that our underwriters and claims handlers are not only product experts, but understand emerging trends and are well-versed in the latest market conditions. We strive to be more than just an underwriter or a claim handler; we want to be a resource.

Being Accountable

Lady smiling with arms folded

We ask our insurance professionals to acknowledge the responsibility that they have to Great American and to our business associates to consistently deliver solutions. One of our core axioms is to never make a promise we cannot keep. We cannot write all risks or cover all claims, and if we cannot offer a proposal on a risk, we ask our underwriters to provide a simple, straight-forward reason as to why. If a claim is not covered, we strive to provide a timely, well-reasoned explanation. If we make a mistake, we endeavor to acknowledge it and learn from it. Through this accountability, we will continue to successfully support you effectively, and efficiently manage risks that can threaten your clients’ financial security.

As a member of the Environmental Division's leadership team, we continually stress to our dedicated insurance professionals that adhering to these principles and working on them daily is paramount to our continued commitment to provide industry-best customer service.

Our industry-leading service levels include the ability to provide the technical expertise and responsiveness you need to provide your customers with comprehensive risk management. This, coupled with the building of strong relationships, effective communications and accountability, allows us to maintain the consistency and collaborative spirit that is the hallmark of our “winning” team.

Barry Geisler Portrait

Barry Geisler Portrait

Barry Geisler

Barry is a divisional Senior Vice President and Chief Underwriting Officer for the Environmental Division, leading our Executive Underwriting team. He has been with the Environmental Division for the past ten years. Barry’s prior experience includes serving as contracts counsel with the environmental insurance space as well as working on complex commercial and defense litigation. He is based out of our Exton, PA office.