Editor’s Note: Marci Malzahn, author of “Maximizing Talent – An Inspirational Guide for New Leaders No Matter Your Age,” invited women who hold leadership positions at community banks to share how they’ve nurtured their own leadership talents and to offer others advice on how they might someday lead too. Previously, Peg Scott, chair, CEO/CFO of Union State Bank, Greenfield, Iowa; Heidi Gesell, president & CEO of Bank Cherokee, St. Paul, Minn., and Nichol Beckstrand, president of Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, offered their insights.
Vice Chair of the Board
Village Bank, St. Francis, Minn.
Q: How have you nurtured your leadership talents?
By coaching, listening and giving myself 48 hours. I am a fiery red; I am an influencer. It’s important to recognize your strengths and how to use them situationally.
Coaching helped me slow down, understand my team’s strengths, and create a common language to deliver messages respectfully. Learning how to work and play together is important for a team to stay together.
Listen. And then listen some more. Listen to your colleagues, your kids, your podcasts, your music. Don’t stop listening and learning. I find ideas everywhere. Keep an open mind and you will discover solutions.
My strengths often lead me to believe I have found the answer in three seconds. Experience has taught me I find the right answer for the team, and the community, usually a day or two later. Don’t be afraid to pause; pausing is powerful; pausing is responsible. In 48 hours, magic can happen.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self knowing what you know today?
Be yourself. As a young woman I spent so much time trying to prove who I was instead of focusing on exactly who I am. Who I am is good enough. So, it’s okay to act like a lady; it’s okay to not golf. Although every experience is invaluable, feeling comfortable in your own skin is really a superpower. Knowing and feeling confident in your abilities is really cool.
Q: What leadership qualities are most prized at your bank today?
Accountability, laser focus, curiosity, and creative and critical thinking. It’s an exciting time to be a community banker. The big banks are sweeping in and the family banks are selling. By coming home and joining my dad, Village Bank was able to make the commitment to stay.
Accountability to our community challenges “Villagers” to think outside the box on products and services. Laser focus and an obligation to service creates a culture that is infectious. Creative and critical thinking allows us to think about our verticals and what special products we can create. Curiosity makes sure we never stop thinking, “what’s next?”
It’s important to recognize community banks’ commitment — shout it from the rooftops — and be proud. It’s a choice that could appear difficult in today’s environment, but is worth every minute when you meet the people I work with.