“Our success lies in the things we don’t have to do.” 

Earlier this year, I attended the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) EDGE event, and when Hazem Ahmed, the chairman of the IBAT Education Foundation, uttered those words, I sat up and took notice. 

That’s because as leaders, this sentiment resonates as we consider the future of our banks and our communities. What are we doing outside of our daily operations to support the next generation? How are we bringing our teams along with us? In short, what are we doing that we don’t have to do to create continuity and lasting success?  

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Where I’ll be this month

I’ll be attending the annual meetings of the Wyoming Bankers Association and the Florida Bankers Association and sharing more about the importance of cultivating community continuators.

This concept really rears its head when we consider succession planning. As we think about who will fill our shoes, we need to recognize that preparing for the future is not as much about filling a particular job description as it is about creating a conscious path for our banks and communities. To paraphrase immediate past chairman Brad Bolton, we aren’t just building bank leaders, we’re cultivating community continuators. 

That goes beyond running the bank. So, when we look at staff development, our focus cannot be solely on that new role or title. It needs to address how what we’re doing today will prepare and grow them for the future. It takes conscious planning and preparation, extending further than development plans to inspire our teams to want to be the next community continuators. 

When I speak on this topic, I often ask for a show of hands in the room of how many people have identified their successor. A fair number of hands rise. Then I ask, “Does that individual have any clue what you’re thinking?” The chuckles I get from that follow-up are fascinating. All too often, we’ve decided this person could do the job, but we’re not telling them.

We have to have these conversations and let people know that they have great potential, because our careers are journeys, not destinations. While we can’t guarantee what the future holds, we can share our vision and provide that individual with a sense of purpose and an inspiration for what their role could become. 

So, as you read and reflect on leadership in this month’s issue, I encourage you to ask yourself what more you could do to launch the next generation of community continuators. I’m betting you’ll come up with a few new ideas, and chances are that these “unrequired” actions are a key to your bank’s continued success.