Insurance Executives’ Personality Traits


January 5, 2016

The Best's Review article, "Insurance Executives’ Personality Traits," features Russell Reynolds Associates research on the personality traits of insurance executives. Limore Zilberman is also quoted in the article talking about the research and its findings. The article is excerpted below.

Lawyers and politicians are often known to have persuasive and competitive personalities, while health care workers typically have more nurturing and stable dispositions. But when it comes to insurance executives, personality traits are across the board.

Compared to their financial professional peers in other regulated sectors, today's insurance executives are faster moving and are more extroverted, according to a study by executive search and leadership firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

And contrary to popular belief, "insurance executives' psychological attributes showcase the dynamic personality that in many ways defies the industry's stodgy stereotypes," said Limore Zilberman, executive search and assessment consultant for the global firm.

The Russell Reynolds Associates' study was based on data from 87 insurance executives, along with the company's broader database of executives using 60 psychometric scales from well-validated leadership assessments to understand on which scales insurance executives showed statistical differences from other populations.

Insurance executives also tend to be more even-keeled and pragmatic than their counterparts in other financial sectors, Zilberman said. They are 30% more willing to trust others, 24% more detail oriented and 20% more socially confident, the study found. In addition, insurance industry executives are far more likely to worry than their executive peers, "and in their bold, achievement-oriented nature, they manifest a dynamism that stands in sharp contrast to traditional views of insurance executives," according to the study.

"The insurance sector, as a whole, is very steadfast and consistent, but it is also an industry that's very trusting," Zilberman said. "A lot of that stems from the fact that you have professionals who have grown up through the industry.

"Something that came out as a surprise in the study is that there is a very high level of extroversion among insurance leaders," she said. "As a whole, executives scored very high on dynamic personality traits, including being very outgoing, bold and more comfortable in the spotlight. They are willing to move fast and take both action and calculated risks."

There are personality trait differences within the insurance industry itself. Life/health executives are more innovative and "have what we call re-imagining personality traits," while property/casualty executives, immersed in a sector faced with sharp and decisive action under uncertain conditions, generally are "drivers and are forging a strong path," Zilberman said.

Life/health executives are 18% more conceptual in their thinking than their P/C peers, the study found. They are also 15% more open to change, Zilberman said.

To read the full article, click here.

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Insurance Executives’ Personality Traits