Learning About Leadership


ICBA’s Leadership Development Conference provides hands-on insights and one-on-one inspiration

By Carol Patton

From the moment Scott Badley was selected to represent the community bank at ICBA’s Leadership Development Conference in Indianapolis in September, he started researching topics that would be addressed at the conference.

“So before I even started on the road to Indy, I literally had hundreds of ideas floating around in my head,” recalls Badley, vice president at CSB Bank, a $240 million-asset community bank operating seven retail offices throughout southeastern, Michigan.

“I am very fortunate that I work for a bank that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute at a strategic level and, even more fortunate, that I am a member of our nine-person leadership team,” he says. “I will have endless possibilities for applying [these new] leadership skills.”

Launched three years ago, ICBA’s annual Leadership Development Conference has quickly developed a reputation for helping community bankers strengthen their management potential and leadership skills. The three-day conference features a wide variety of education sessions, round-table discussions, expert panels that address key issues impacting the success of community banks and exhibitors demonstrating innovative products and services. Participants learn how to lead, expand their professional networks, inspire colleagues and interact with multigenerational coworkers or customers. Networking discussion topics tackled at the conference have included industry issues ranging from reengineering retail strategies to maximizing online visibility.


The conference’s takeaways are different for every participant. Consider the following comments from community bankers who attended this September’s conference:

Badley says he’s now more knowledgeable about how to create a positive workplace, coach employees, establish leader opportunities, boost underperforming branches and influence and invest in people.

Andrea Payne, vice president of administration at Field & Main Bank, a $390 million-asset community bank in Henderson, Ky., says the conference taught her how to “build my network of peers and make an intentional effort to leverage my social capital.”

Lisa Michelone, senior vice president at Reliance Savings Bank, a $410 million-asset community bank in Altoona, Pa., which operates five area retail offices, says, “The Power of Influence” seminar presented by Ty Bennett, a leadership develop expert, was “simply awesome.” Bennett offered advice on how to engage and inspire others.

Nicole Barbaro, accounting analyst at Mauch Chunk Trust, a $300 million- asset-size community in Jim Thorpe, Pa., attended the workshop “GenNext: Millennials as Your Next Best Customer.” She says the session helped her “guide our product committees on what we should be offering.”

That session’s speaker, Chris Lorence, ICBA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, identified the characteristics of Millennials, the 80 million Americans who were born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. Conference goers learned how to lead fundamental change in their bank to do business with this generation.

As a vice president at First State Bank Southwest, a $235 million-asset bank in Edgerton, Minn., with six retail offices, Brad Bruxvoort says, “It was interesting finding out what’s important to [different] generations. Knowing what motivates different generations helps me as a manager to set the right goals and get the right outcomes.”

Bruxvoort believes the conference offered ample variety and sophistication to challenge the leadership style, practices and strategies of community bankers with different experiences and on all different levels. The event encourages bankers, he says, to reevaluate their management or leadership style. Is it effective? Does it resonate with different generations—both employees and customers? Does it motivate employees and enhance their productivity?

“If we’re honest with ourselves, we can all learn something, no matter what level of leadership we’re at, whether we have 20 years of management or just entering the industry,” says Bruxvoort. “Overall, the conference was enlightening.”

Carol Patton is a freelance writer in Nevada.