The 6th Insurance Leadership Forum 2021 (ILF 2021) organised by Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) in collaboration with The Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII) was successfully held on 28 – 29 July 2021. Setting the scene on the theme of “Reset.Renewal.Hope.Opportunity”, the two-day virtual event gathered over 300 participants comprising of prominent leaders in the insurance industry as well as leadership, transformational, and Learning and Development (L&D) experts who shared their perspectives and insights on transformational leadership, its challenges, and future outlook.
ILF 2021 explored issues on talent management, the appreciation of the connection between technology and talent, and how leaders can build a transformed workforce that is highly skilled, diverse, engaged, and agile while prioritizing the well-being of employees more than ever before.
In his keynote address, Mr. Adnan Zaylani Bin Mohamad Zahid, Assistant Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia said, “Since the pandemic began, the insurance industry has stepped forward with various relief measures and financial assistance to affected policy/certificate holders to cope with the financial, mental and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rallied up together in setting up the Covid Test Fund (CTF).” In this regard, he added that the Insurance & Takaful industry can play a bigger role towards supporting economic hardship and the recovery phase”. He also highlighted that a crucial look into Climate Action and Managing Climate Risk is necessary to promote sustainable risk management practices to guide industry players in managing and developing institutional capacity of climate risk in their business strategies. On digitalization, Mr. Adnan encouraged the industry to develop a framework in promoting new digital players and institutional transformation in the domestic Insurance and Takaful industry.
In his welcoming address, Mr. Antony Lee, Chairman, PIAM accentuated that the future of the insurance industry will require a transformed workforce that is even more highly skilled, diversified, agile, and engaged. As such, the need for continuous learning for leaders has never been more critical. In order to survive in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment, leaders need to build leadership skills and organizational capabilities that are different from those that helped them succeed in the past. Mr Antony said, “talent transformation is needed to develop a knowledgeable, strategically adaptive, cognitively flexible, and proficient workforce. Today, the preferred workforces must include expertise in artificial intelligence, data analytics, social media psychology, and a host of other skillsets we aren’t even aware of today.”
A live poll survey on how leaders can lead transformation given the unprecedented circumstance we have worked and lived in for the past 18 months on the question of ‘are you doing a reset of your priorities on work and life?’ 63% of participants answered they ‘have already reset their priorities’ while 26% polled for ‘still thinking about a reset, likely to’, 7% answered ‘I can’t wait to go back to the life I once had pre-pandemic and 4% were ‘not sure’.
Indeed, the last 18 months has presented the industry with unprecedented challenges. Panel speakers explored what the industry has learned from the experiences of 2020 and the critical role all leaders play in nurturing and supporting employees during uncertain and challenging times. In addition, speakers also elaborated on the importance of employers’ ongoing support through various mediums or platforms of employees’ mental and well-being. This is in relation to leaders playing an active role in the growth mindset of their organisation and leading by example in creating a sustainable safe workplace in order to increase productivity and performance of employees. Leadership goes beyond the position that you hold because knowledge awareness, skills, results, actions, and mindset values are the heart of every transformational growth.
In Mr. Zainuddin Ishak, Convenor, PIAM Education/Human Resource Development Committee speech, he highlighted on the importance of talent development in the insurance industry and that companies must upskill their existing employees or members of their communities. This means expanding people’s capabilities and employability, often using adult learning and training tools, to fulfil the talent needs of a rapidly changing economy.
Mr. Zainuddin said, “we need talent who can command artificial intelligence, analyze data, invent and apply solutions on the fly, and slide effortlessly into new roles as needed. Organisations need to grow and build talent within their capability towards this path in order to ensure that the business remains relevant, in sync, and in contact with the customers and consumers. This will in turn safeguard the sustainability of the trade and the industry.”
In order to drive change transformation, while the fuel is talent, leaders play an active role in the growth mindset of their organisation and to lead by example in creating a sustainable safe workplace in order to increase productivity and performance of employees and companies need to prioritize upskilling of existing employees to meet the demands of a rapidly transforming world.
In this regard, learning and development plays a critical role in driving talent transformation, another poll survey was taken on the question of ‘what is the highest priority for learning and development in your company’? Half polled for ‘impact of digital on the insurance industry, 31% polled for ‘technical/specialist’, and 19% polled for general management.
As such, the forum deliberated that leaders should regard learning and development as an investment, not as an expense in creating a lifelong learning culture of an environment of constant learning. In achieving this, leaders are to re-focus on employees’ passion and skills set to generate new models and strategies because having the right digital culture can empower talent to be at their best while growing in their roles.
Remote Working and Its Impact
Today most companies view remote working as the future of the workplace. Over the last year since the pandemic, insurers have made progress in upgrading its infrastructure to enable minimal disruption in a remote working environment, as well as expanding digital platforms to manage operations. On the poll question of “what is the future of work?” incredibly 88% of the participants voted for hybrid while 11% voted for working from home and only 1% voted for working from office. In adopting remote or virtual working as a norm, employers need to consider the capacity and capability of employees, compliance, connectivity and cost. Ultimately, remote working helps to increase employee’s productivity and lower the reliance on physical co-locations of people. In order to achieve this, organisations need to invest in the right tools to optimize digital infrastructure and transformation in achieving optimum productivity of employees while remote working.
The forum concluded that transformational leadership requires an aligned organisation to provide clarity on decision rights and culture as a result of beliefs. While a transformed workforce takes a lot of good effort and focus, organisations should focus on simple KPIs and performance of the business. Hence, having a strategy and action plan is important.