MetLife's Poznanski: Leadership is watching others and being an example

MetLife's Poznanski: Leadership is watching others and being an example

The old adage “watch and learn” is a big part of leadership, but with some variations, according to Kristine Poznanski, executive vice president and head of global business solutions at MetLife, one of Digital Insurance’s 2024 Women in Insurance Leadership honorees.

First, when one is in a leadership role, “people are watching what you do,” she said. For aspiring leaders, though, watching and learning from other leaders is good advice, according to Poznanski.

“There’s going to be times where you’re going to see things that you don’t want to be part of your style,” she said. “As leaders, you can’t underestimate the fact that people are observing you at all times. You have an opportunity to influence how people see leadership and what it should be.”

Poznanski has been at MetLife for 13 years and in her current role since 2021. Previously she held executive roles at Merrill Lynch. In her first seven years at MetLife, as senior vice president and head of customer service, she led a shift from customer service to “customer care,” which meant making it easier for associates to deliver what customers needed.

“It was about high-touch, high-tech moments that matter, putting tools in place to aggregate and consolidate multiple screens into simplified views and an integrated CRM and really simplifying experiences,” she said. “That meant automating the more transactional types of inquiries to focus on the moments that matter.”

Poznanski’s current role expands these functions and goals to address the needs of different MetLife business units and its stakeholders. “I think about leading large scale change programs, reengineering processes, protecting the company through business resilience and third party risk management, and then delivering operational support through our shared services group,” she said. “We do everything from core insurance operations to finance operations, actuarial, data and analytics, technology and information security. We become an extension of those teams, and we’re able to deliver it at scale through our shared services.”

See also  How to Watch NASCAR, Supercross, and Everything Else in Racing This Weekend, February 16-19

The shared services group reengineers processes across all of MetLife, finding ways to drive efficiency and provide better experiences at scale, according to Poznanski. 

“This style of leadership revolves around serving others, focusing on their growth and development while also showing empathy, humility and commitment,” she said. “I believe these things all lead to greater organizational success.”

She outlined three tasks that are key to this style of leadership. First is creating a workplace culture where everyone feels they can be heard. Second is making associates’ work easier by removing obstacles to what they are asked to accomplish. Third is developing associates’ abilities to be the best they can be professionally.

Successful leadership requires focus on outcomes. “It’s easy to get caught up in the tools or the capability,” she said. “Leading is really understanding where value will come from, what outcome we’re trying to drive and ensuring we’re bringing people along on that change journey.”

Her approach to leadership, under the culture of MetLife, has been a differentiator for the insurer, Poznanski believes. “It’s a focus on ensuring that people feel like their voices matter,” she said. “We want them to bring their authentic selves to work. It’s something that, for me, personally, has always mattered.”