Your bank is only as good as its branches, each branch is only as good as its staff, and the branch team is only as good as the professionals you have in place to lead the branch. It seems like that should all go without saying, shouldn’t it? Yet lack of leadership development strategies is a pervasive problem in business, and banking is no exception.
A 2013 global survey by Harvard Business Publishing found that less than a third of the executives and senior talent development professionals polled felt their organizations had the skilled leaders they needed to achieve their company’s goals. I’ve heard echoes of this same concern in conversations with community banking executives.
These capable bankers crave insight into how to identify and cultivate the future leaders of their banks. They know the quality of their up and coming leaders is vital to the overall success of their financial institutions.
Strong leaders drive the innovation and customer service that directly impact the bottom line of community banks.
If you’re leaving leadership development in the hands of the HR team – even if they’re outstanding – you’re not doing everything you can to identify and nurture the future leaders of your financial institution. HR is only part of the greater system you need to have in place in order to grow leadership within your organization. Leadership development should be a priority on everyone’s radar.
To nurture leadership skills within your branch team members, you must:
- Define the type of leaders you need. For example, if a branch lacks a strong customer service reputation, it may need a leader who can motivate others to excel in this area. Analyze current branch performance to determine what areas might benefit from an infusion of leadership skills.
- Clarify the roles of each leader. The branch manager should never be the only leader on site, but it’s important that everyone understand their individual roles and how they can help move the entire organization toward its objectives.
- Include everyone. Cultivating the innate skills of all team members will help those with leadership qualities rise to the top in their area of expertise – whether it’s new account acquisition, loan processing or customer service.
- Use proven personality measurement tools and performance benchmarks to assess the strengths and skills of potential branch leaders.
- Implement and support a leadership development plan that offers opportunities and tools to help key staff grow their leadership skills.
A recurring theme we hear from our banking clients is that the right tools make a difference in staff development. Our clients tell us that Banker’s Dashboard helps younger bankers better understand how their performance affects the overall picture for the entire financial institution. It also helps executives see who’s shown initiative and used the tool in order to gain insights into branch performance.
No organization can succeed without strong leaders. Is your financial institution doing enough to identify and cultivate the team members who will help lead your bank to success?