Leadership

Building a strategic roadmap

A lot of banks take time during October for strategic planning. If I were a banker, these are some of the things I would put on my strategic planning meeting agenda. Should we start a virtual bank? A long-established bank might not have much opportunity to grow its business footprint, so rather than defining the market by geography, maybe we define it by affinity and reach out to new customers digitally. [Continue]

A hat tip to the family-owned bank

While it is difficult to nail down exact numbers, it is safe to say that the number of banks owned by one or two families is declining. The family-owned bank is a venerable niche of the community bank arena. Family-owned institutions experience pressures other banks avoid. As the family group grows with generations, fewer of the shareholders retain direct bank involvement. More of the shareholders in these families see their shares as solely an investment. As they weigh the value of their shares against other investment options, they may press the other members of the family to sell.  [Continue]

Resilience is that invaluable intangible

Did you happen to catch Charles Woodson’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech last month? The inductee class of 2021 included some big names such as Drew Pearson and Peyton Manning. But it was Woodson — the Heisman Trophy winning defensive back who began and ended his career with the Raiders but who also wore the green-and-gold for the Packers for seven years — who carried the ceremony with an impassioned speech focusing on family and overcoming adversity. [Continue]

Don’t let perfection be a roadblock to progress

A fourth-generation community banker recently shared a piece of advice she got from her father. There are times and situations, he told her, when giving 80 percent is good enough. In our cover story this month, which bestows our first ever “Spirit of Community Banking” award on the second- and third-generation leadership team at Ohnward Bancshares, you’ll find an example of how a less than 100 percent effort was the ticket to success. [Continue]

Rocky start needn’t be the final say

If you are my age and cut your grass as a child with a power lawn mower, it likely had a Clinton engine, manufactured in eastern Iowa. In the middle 1960s, Clinton Engines dominated the small engines market, producing tens of thousands of motors sold throughout the United States and exported to 90 countries. The company employed more than 5,000 people, many of whom worked in Maquoketa. One would think it would be a great place to open a bank.  [Continue]

Economic recovery hinges on more people trusting science

It has been one year since the coronavirus upended our lives and transformed our businesses. If you are reading this, you escaped the worst — though you likely know people who became ill; perhaps you became acquainted with COVID-19 personally or knew someone who succumbed to the virus. There have been more than 500,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States since this all started. [Continue]

March is for recognizing directors

My hat’s off to all directors, especially outside directors — the folks who bring experience and knowledge from other industries to the enterprise of banking. For the fifth year in a row, we are devoting our March edition to recognition of outside directors. Our Amazing Outside Directors program, this year sponsored by CLA,  features four accomplished business leaders. [Continue]

‘Banker of the Year’ takes seriously his role as mentor

These are bankers who have grown their organizations, organically or through acquisition or both; individuals who’ve resolutely climbed through the ranks; leaders who invested time and treasure to serve the industry or their colleagues; people who educated themselves on the issues that could make — or break — their institutions; visionaries who are able to see where their institutions need to be in three or six or nine years and put the work in now to chart that course. [Continue]

Unite around hope for 2021

If you made a business plan for 2020 that was shelved by the middle of March, you might think about dusting it off for 2021. With vaccines becoming available, one can reasonably hope for a return to normal activity later this year.  [Continue]

Is your board an ‘asset’ or an ‘audience’?

As a director serving two boards, I can tell you that 2020 reinforced its no-star rating by the challenges it afforded leadership in banks large and small. In both cases, for me, dealing with substantive and emotional issues under significant time constraints made me grateful that both of my boards are strategically focused and functionally practical. But that’s not always the case. [Continue]