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5 Ways To Spot A Leader Headed Nowhere

5 Ways To Spot A Leader Headed Nowhere

A leader with no destination is just taking a lonely walk

Leadership defined in its simplest form, is the ability to rally people to a better future. What is that better future? Therein lies the problem with far too many so-called leaders. Many don’t really know their future and can’t visualize and/or communicate it. This type of leader is one in name only as some have called it. He has the title but does not have the ability and is incapable of attracting followers who can help attain goals. This type of leader has an organization full of paycheck collectors who have no clear purpose to drive their career other than a salary and something to do to pass time until the weekend. Are you one of these leaders? Do you work for one? Here are a few things they all have in common.

1. No elevator speech

We define an elevator speech as a 60-second or less talk on a specific topic. A typical speech could be one that answers a question, such as “what do you do for a living” or “where are you going on vacation this year”. An employee interviewing for a job is often asked the question, “where do you see yourself in 3 or 5 years”. There are far better questions to ask in an interview but if you’re the one being asked this question, you better have a good and brief answer. A leader should be able to stand up to that simple standard by having a clear answer to the question of, “where do you see your bank in 3 or 5 years?” If a leader can’t clearly tell you her vision in less than 60-seconds, then she really has no vision or she’s too lazy to come up with a good answer. Either way, you might want to get on another elevator that’s not going to leave you hanging between two floors.

2. A culture of confusion

Corporate culture is extremely important. A great community bank should have a relationship-based or advocate-based culture and a leader who promotes it. A big bank might have a convenience culture or, as some have chosen, an aggressive sales culture. If your bank is offering relationship pricing while pushing a product of the month, mailing campaign, then confusion sets in and you really have no culture. A culture of offering higher rates to hot money while paying lower rates to loyal customers is putting you in the class of Directv and Dish. Great leaders ensure that their culture is one of consistency that sends a clear message to all who follow.

3. Everything is negotiable

A leader who doesn’t establish non-negotiables for the organization is going to spend his time fighting battles that shouldn’t exist instead of implementing the vision. As human beings, it’s in our nature to push boundaries. Sometimes we call that innovation and it can be a good thing. But if your community bank has not established non-negotiables, lines that cannot be crossed, you’ll quickly find that people will tend to do their own thing, whether it’s good or not so good for the bank. Non-negotiables are nothing more than basic boundaries that should be set for the entire bank that covers areas of attitude, communication, compliance, and minimum standards. Great leaders set the non-negotiables and then allow their people to innovate within these clear boundaries.

4. Good at a lot, great at nothing

This leader is sometimes found in a community bank that actually does a decent job at many things. But if your bank is not known for being great at one thing then we all know the leader lacks focus of direction and is usually going in circles wondering why the latest sales idea didn’t quite work out as planned. Some community banks are the best at serving the 70 year old widow, while some are the best at serving the small business owner. Jim Collin’s classic book, Good to Great, gives further insight into this. Great leaders know their people and they know why they will beat the competition… and saying we have the best service isn’t good enough, unless you have the tracking and numbers to prove it.

5. Happy in the land of the status quo

Some leaders just don’t want to rock the boat. They are people pleasers. As odd as it sounds this leader is a paycheck collector. We usually reserve that term for the subordinate level employee but more leaders than we’d like to admit, fall into this category. We get it, the status quo is easy, it’s comfortable, it’s like standing in kumbaya circle. This leader has reached that point of thinking it’s just too difficult to fight city hall. City hall could be a board member, a few key employees leading the bank’s sub-culture, or it could be that she’s six months from retirement or another job, so why bother pushing forward. Great leaders not only have vision but they live and operate in the moment. They figure a way around city hall or how to implement as much as possible in spite of them and they don’t tolerate any culture other than the stated and agreed upon culture of the organization. Even if the CEO is moving on in 6 months she still wants to leave her successor with momentum to move to the next level.

Related Article: Leading In Fear Of The Status Quo

Where does that leave you?

If you’re a leader or have leadership responsibilities (this includes supervisors from the CEO to the entry-level manager) do you find yourself fitting into any of the above categories? If so, you have some changes to make. They’re not difficult but you will get pushback. Real leaders are fine with that. We’ve always liked the quote, “Everyone wants to be a leader until it’s time to lead”. It’s a new year. You’re the leader. Where are you headed?

SCMG, Inc.
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Covington, LA, 70435
(800) 560-1127

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