Finding Mr. Right

Having trouble selling a product or service that you think is perfect?

Inspector Jacques ClouseauCommunity banks are finding themselves in this situation.  More and more people are looking to outside competitors for banking assistance.

  • Credit unions are supplying people with low-interest rate car loans.
  • Reloadable pre-pay cards are offering an alternative to traditional checking accounts
  • Mobile apps are creating new ways to pay for bills and exchange money between people

These three options are great, but here’s the catch: community banks offer some (if not all) of these services. The problem is that people either do not want do business with a bank or they are unaware that banks offer these services.

How can community banks overcome this issue?

Image Crisis

Inspector and Chief InspectorIt is no surprise that banks have received bad publicity over the past 6 years.  Bank closures, bailouts and fraud have caused public opinion of banks to collapse.  Unfortunately for community banks, people tend to lump big banks and local community banks together in this mess.

To help overcome this, banks need to work on their public relations efforts by reaching out to potential customers and to the communities they serve.  The issue is that many community banks are stretched thin, so it is important that a consistent message is communicated so you can maximize your exposure.

Keep a consistent message

Call it a tagline, slogan or sayin’, but whatever you call it, make sure you keep it consistent.  By keeping a consistent message, people will start recognizing it.  But remember, even if you and your staff are getting tired of the message, keep it up.  The last thing you want to do is keep changing your message.  Constant change means you are hitting the restart button with your audience.

No Exposure

Inspector and WomanIs your bank advertising, communicating and marketing in the right places? For example, if you are wanting to grow your customer base among 20 -34 year olds, then advertising on an AM radio station between the hours of 10am – 1pm may not be the most effective place.

Make sure you are where your market is, and focus your attention to it.

  1. Research where your target market is.
  2. Craft a message that will get their attention and give a call to action.
  3. Follow through to see if your efforts are working or if it needs tweaking.

As previously mentioned, most community banks are stretched thin, so make sure your communication is done in a creative way that will get people’s attention.

Creative Communication

If a bank wants to increase the number of CDs it has, then running an average newspaper advertisement may do the job, but that doesn’t mean you can communicate the same way when trying to reach a digital based customer.

If you are trying to reach a young, digital audience, then find out where these customers are. Do you have a presence on Twitter or Instagram?  If not, think about how you can translate your message on these sites. Even if you do have a social presence, what are you doing locally to get their attention?  If you can effectively communicate on a digital and local level, you will amplify your message and yield stronger results.

Pay Attention

Inspector BombBefore jumping into new waters, be sure to research.  Make sure your perfect product/service is what your intended target market wants.  Once it is launched and you have communicated your message, listen to your audience.  If your audience likes it, use that as a stepping stone.  If your audience has issues with it, use that as a stepping stone too.

The last thing a community bank wants is their efforts to backfire and blow up like a bomb.

 

 

 

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Sporting Leadership: Mark Cuban vs Jerry Jones

Cuban and Jones HugWhen I think of professional sports and leadership, two Dallas owners come to mind: Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.  Just like the state of Texas, both men have big, bold personalities.  Cuban and Jones are also known for winning and taking their teams to the next level of success.  These two leaders have taken different paths to make their teams great.  Here are just a few examples of what they have done; both good and bad.

Jerry Jones: The Micromanaging Visionary

When Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys back in 1989, he had a vision, that led to an unpopular decision.  He fired longtime head coach Tom Landry and replaced him with Jimmy Johnson.  Though fans didn’t understand it at the time, this decision allowed Jones to start fresh and put together a coaching and administrative staff that would follow his vision.  Jones was very hands on and the combination of him and Coach Johnson led to great draft picks and all-star players.  By having the team follow his vision and running on all cylinders, the Dallas Cowboys won two back to back Super Bowls (XXVII and XXVIII) and won Super Bowl XXX.

Micromanage Pitfall

jerry_jones_sideline

“…any one of 500 coaches could have won those Super Bowls”

Jones created a winning dynasty in Dallas.  He had the right players with Troy Aikman and Emmett Smith.  He had the right coach with Johnson.  What happened that caused the dynasty to collapse in Dallas?

Micromanagement.

When things started going wrong with his coach, he started roaming around the sidelines questioning everything.  He eventually pushed out Coach Jimmy Johnson, the man who helped execute the vision of the team’s success.  Though the Cowboys won a Super Bowl without Coach Johnson, they slowly started running downhill and haven’t truly recovered since then.

Cuban: The Passionate Instigator

Casual CubanMark Cuban became the majority stakeholder of the Dallas Mavericks in 2000.  Before that time, the team had a losing record (40% games won) and was swimming in a sea of mediocrity.  With his drive for winning, Cuban has been able to turn this team around and they keep showing up in the NBA finals.  In 2011, the team won their first by NBA Championship by dethroning “King” James and the heralded Miami Heat.

Standing Out from the Crowd

“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.”

Mark Cuban has never blended in with a group; which has led to his success.  For example, Cuban realized to get the right players  he had to recruit in a different way.  One of those ways had to do with the locker room.  The Dallas Mavericks have one of the most expensive elaborate locker rooms in all of professional sports.  While others questioned why would spend so much money on a locker room, he was busy using this as a recruitment and retention tool.

Not blending in has also caused Cuban to create unneeded controversy, including his most recent comments that led to him apologizing to the family of Trayvon Martin.

IMG_4005-419x314Both Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are passionate about their businesses and their teams.  This passion has led to success in their respected fields.  There isn’t anyone who can say that Jerry Jones has not lived up to the vision he has had with the Cowboys.  The same can be said about Cuban when it comes to inspiring people to live up to their fullest potential.

Which owner would you categorize yourself as the most?

Lead Like Charlemagne

543088_Charlemagne-Crowned-By-Pope-Leo-III-Dec-25-800Over the weekend while watching a documentary of the Dark Ages, I was reminded about Emperor Charlemagne and the lasting impression he left in Europe.  Charlemagne was the first European Emperor after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and brought unity to Europe; though it came at a high price.

But what can business leaders learn from Charlemagne?  Here are a few concepts taken from Charlemagne that can help you and your business succeed.

Religious Conversions: Company Culture

To make sure everyone was on the same page, Charlemagne would convert conquered lands to Christianity.  By “convert” he would give people a choice, follow his God or die.

Though this is an extreme example, it does stand to point that this level of unity helped keep Charlemagne’s rule intact.  Everyone held the same beliefs, publicly had the same values and followed the same rules.

It’s similar to a strong company culture.  By establishing what your company stands for by creating standards, values and believes, you give your staff a general understanding of what you expect of them…just don’t execute them if they fall short.

County Leaders: Accountability

Charlemagne divided his land into several counties and put a person in charge of each county.  He would frequently visit each county leader to see how they were ruling the land and hold them accountable.

This type of hands-on leadership allowed Charlemagne to stay connected to his people and stay ahead of any forseeable issues. Would Charlemagne’s rule have been as vast and long if he would have just stayed locked up in his castle?  Probably not.

Take a page from Charlemagne’s book and let your leaders lead.  True leaders lead those around them by giving them a level of responsibility, examines how that person handles situations, and reacts accordingly.

Education: Education

Charlemagne understood the importance of education.  When coming into power, he was one of only a very small group of leaders that actually learned how to read.  During his time, only monks and other religious leaders placed an importance of literacy; but Charlemagne understood that knowledge is power.

As a leader, it is important to understand that you must always quench your thirst for knowledge.  Reading, taking classes and having a good mentor are just a few ways to continue your educational path.  Learning shouldn’t just end with you, rather you should make sure those around you are seeking knowledge as well.

By creating an accountability system and establishing an educational foundation, you will start laying the foundation of a strong company culture.  You may not become the Emperor of Europe, but who wants that anyway?

Which historical leader do you look to for business and/or life lessons?  Is there a historical leader who’s traits you admire?  If so share your opinion in the comments section.

Motivation vs. Manipulation

When it comes to coaching and mentoring, there are times when people unfortunately make the mistake of confusing motivation with manipulation.

Most of the time the difference between the two are simple, but there are a few situations where there may be a grey area.  Wether you are the one coaching or the one being coached, consider the following points:

  • Selfishness vs Selflessness.  This is the best metric to use when determining if the advice you are either giving or receiving is a tool of motivation or manipulation.  Just ask yourself if what you are doing will only help you or if it will help and benefit others around you.
  • Short-term and Long-term.  When coaching, the advice and leadership given should be pointing someone in the direction that will help them in the short-term and long-term.
  • Ethical and Moral Alignment.  Coaching and mentoring in the workplace is a great win-win situation.  When a company can pair a seasoned, experienced worker with an up-and-comer, it can produce great, long-term results.  It’s important to remember that any coaching or mentoring should not only be good for the company, but good for the person.  If a coach/mentor is leading someone to grow up the company ladder by using back-door deals and agreeing to do questionable projects, then not only the future of the company is in jeopardy, but so is the future of the one being mentored.

If you follow these three points, it will be clear to see if the advice you are giving (or receiving) falls under the angel or devil side of your shoulder.

If you are the one receiving coaching from a mentor and you see a pattern of manipulative leadership, run away…FAST.  Most likely the person is not confusing manipulation and positive motivation; they are purposely using manipulation for selfish, personal gain.

In other words, don’t become Evil Homer!

Praise Verses Criticize

Early in my career, I was given some solid advice

Praise publicly, criticize privately

I remember two of my early mentors, Dick Prince and Routon Mathis, discussing this topic in a meeting.  Of course this is an old notion, but at the time I had no idea.  They definitely dropped some knowledge on me.

This simple two-fold advice is something that I have done my best to do in life.  Not only in business, but in all aspects of life.  So it drives me crazy when I see someone publicly criticize someone in a group of people.  Unfortunately I saw this happen late last week.

I witnessed someone being cut down by a superior in public.  Although I didn’t disagree with the comments being made, I did have a problem with how it was delivered.  The superior did this in front of a mixed audience and was trying to make an example out of this person.  It wasn’t as bad as Kevin Spacey in Horrible Bosses, but it was pretty close.

The experience made me think about those who have truly motivated me in my life.  My old youth pastors, managers, and executives.  They all had a common thread: Praise publicly, criticize privately.  Each of them knew that was a key component in communication and motivation.  They were able to coach me up and make me a better person.  I’m forever in their debt for that.

I then thought about the person who always made a point to make a public scene anytime I made a mistake.  She always made sure to have an audience around when it was time to “teach me a lesson.”  This particular person was able to motivate me…motivate me to get away from them.

If you criticize someone in front of a group, you are only humiliating them.  Yes, they may change their behavior, but they are doing it out of fear and intimidation.  If you do it privately, you have an opportunity to create personal dialogue which can lead to a great coaching opportunity and give someone the opportunity to grow and learn.

If you praise someone in a one-on-one setting you are only boosting their ego.  Don’t get me wrong, giving any praise is better than none at all.  If you do it publicly, you not only boost someone’s self-confidence, you also remind others of what you perceive to be a quality and set a standard of behavior.

If you take anything away from this, remember:

  • The next time you want to give stern advice to someone, pull them aside privately.
  • The next time you want to pat someone on the back for a good job, do it in front of a crowd.

Management: Micro verses Macro

Last month, I attended a conference held by the Tennessee Bankers Association (@TennesseeBanker). Their Annual Human Resources Conference, had a great speaker named Brian Townley. Brian, like myself, is charged with leading both Human Resources and Marketing at his bank. After hearing him speak, I picked up his book Inspiring Leadership. One line from his book took me by surprise.

To me, the worse supervisor is the dictator who says, “Here’s what I need and I don’t care what you do to get there.”

Before reading this, I always thought the extreme micro-manager was the worse supervisor. You know, the manager that checks in and ask questions every 10-15 minutes. But after reading Brian’s book, I understand what he is referring to when placing the “Hands Off” Macro Manager (HOMM for short) at the top of his bad manager list.

Consider the following: Two managers, one a micro and the other a macro manager.  Both managers truly care about their staff and they have a passion for their organization.  Now let’s look at the perception their staff may see when it comes to project management.

  • Communication — Both managers are coming from a caring place.  A Micro Manager will stay in constant communication.  Yes, this manager is getting on their staff’s last nerve, but the staff knows this manager “means well.”  The HOMM just wants something done and, in the eyes of his staff, can come across as just seeing the project as just another task.
  • Coaching — Since a micro manager is very involved in the project, they have more hands on time and are more exposed to coach-able events.
  • Motivation — How can a HOMM know what motivates his/her team if they are not involved with their work?

So which style is better?  A great leader is able to take a blended approach based on what best motivates a staff member.  Giving your team enough room to grow while being around enough to encourage and give feedback is a tough balancing act.

Of course this is easier said than done.  Finding the right balance doesn’t happen overnight, but with hard work and commitment, many leaders have been able to accomplish this.  The good news is that once it has been accomplished the team grows stronger, and the manager certainly isn’t compared to Bill Lumbergh.

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