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. Previous installments can be found here.
Erin Procko, president-Minneapolis, Twin Cities Banking Director
Bell Bank, Fargo, N.D.
Q: How have you nurtured your leadership talents?
I used to think people either had leadership abilities or they didn’t. Now that I am in a leadership role, I realize it is not that simple. Anyone can be a boss, but being a leader is different. It is a talent we nurture over time while learning from our experiences and stretching the way we think about things. I love attending leadership conferences and reading leadership books so that I can push myself to be better every day. I am also lucky that I get to work with leaders who I admire and can learn from. I try to surround myself with people who can help me be a better leader.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self knowing what you know today?
I would tell my younger self not to be afraid of new challenges. Every time I have taken a risk I have grown the most. Be confident and don’t undervalue your abilities; authenticity is powerful. Don’t be intimidated just because everyone else in the room may be older than you, but take the time to learn from those with more experience. Be a sponge, everything you learn will come in handy in some situation in the future, you just don’t know when. Every person you meet matters, make sure to build your network and stay in touch with your network. Lastly, don’t ever compromise your values or beliefs.
Q: What leadership qualities are most prized at your bank today?
The first one is caring deeply about employees and customers and always putting them first. At Bell Bank, our mission statement is “Happy Employees, Happy Customers.” It isn’t just about the numbers. The second is being able to inspire people to fulfill the bank’s vision. We want to be one of the largest and highest performing independently-owned banks in the country and be the best at what we do in the eyes of our customers and employees. It isn’t easy or comfortable everyday, but if employees feel good about what they are doing and where we are going, then they can be empowered and work hard together.