Canadian Underwriter

One way for the P&C industry to train new young leaders

March 24, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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The P&C industry is struggling to find talent to fill the leadership skills gap, but a new program designed to get prospective executives to hit the ground running may be able to help with that.

The New Leader Integration program, led in collaboration by University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and leadership advisory firm Odgers Berndtson, aims to equip senior leaders with the necessary skills to step into their new role.  

“We know from the data that about two-thirds of executives who are new to their role tend to not meet the expectations or their objectives in their first year,” says Eric Beaudan, global head, leadership practice at Odgers Berndtson. “There are some issues that contribute to making that first year, or that transition into an executive role, particularly difficult. And the program is really aiming at helping to close those gaps.”  

The program targets executives who have been in their role for less than 12 months, or who are about to take on a new executive role.  

“The talent gaps are just becoming more acute, which is part of the reason why we’re running this program,” Beaudan says. He notes C-suite turnover is growing year-by-year across all industries, as many boomers and Gen X leaders are retiring.  

“When you look at the C-suite turnover, [it] used to be 6% to 8% about five years ago, in 2016, 2017. In the past three years, it’s jumped to 20%. Now, last year, it was 24%,” he says. “By 2025, about 75% of the workforce will be Millennials and Gen Z. So, we’re in the middle of this very significant transition from two generations of leaders to another brand-new generation of leaders.” 

Because of retirement trends, Beaudan notes many new executives are stepping into their leadership roles years earlier than their predecessors. “The program is really trying to help those individuals who are stepping into an executive or senior leadership role maybe 10 years before they are fully ready to take on that role, and it’s helping to accelerate their development.” 

New executives will learn skills that will benefit themselves as new leaders, as well as their organization more broadly, Beaudan says. 

“As you take on an executive role, the stakes are much higher. You need to really refine your ability to engage with people, whether it’s the board or other executives, in a much more engaging, convincing way.”  

Another major skill executives will learn, Beaudan says, is how to determine the culture of the organization and build an effective team. “How do you shape the team you’ve got, so it’s aligned to your purpose and your vision for what you’re trying to accomplish?” he asks.  

He finds his financial services and insurance clients are susceptible to losing talent. “People are being recruited very aggressively by competitors, by American-based companies, that are doubling salaries.” 

It’s more important than ever to retain your talent by empowering employees. “The pendulum has really switched…from the employer having all the cards to now the employee really having all the cards,” Beaudan says. 

Originally meant to launch between Mar. 22 and Apr. 7 for six half-day sessions, the program will be delayed until the fall to accommodate enrollees’ schedules.  

“A lot of people told us that they were very interested, but they want a bit more time. So, I think we’ll probably run the program sometime in early fall, just to give people who want to be in the program a bit more time to adjust to their role,” Beaudan says.  

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