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]

Let’s stop being so doggedly predictable

I have a friend named Steve with whom I share a monthly dinner out with our respective spouses. Steve is a predictable sort with simple tastes. He likes pizza, chow mein, or a well-done(!) steak, but will set aside any of these options whenever he spies fish-and-chips on a menu. If I gently tease that he’s missing an opportunity to try something new by always ordering the same food, he shrugs his shoulders and says: “I know what I like.” I would like to tell Steve he has it backward. He doesn’t “know what he likes.” He “likes what he knows,” choosing it again and again and again. [Continue]

Inclusive leadership proves effective and meaningful for Black entrepreneurs

Specific to lending, numerous reports show that small, Black-owned businesses were largely shut out of the Paycheck Protection Program. The unfortunate fallout over PPP lending provides a recent example of the economic inequity too often experienced by African-Americans. Now legislators and organizations are pushing for set-asides in potential future funding rounds to ensure minority entrepreneurs gain access to PPP funds that were intended for all entrepreneurs in the first place. [Continue]

Leadership when it matters

Sometimes the way forward is unclear and I think now is one of those times. The demonstrations and riots over injustice in our law enforcement tell us something is gravely wrong, but any answers about how to fix this remain mercurial at best. [Continue]