Future Bound


A view on leadership from an up-and-coming CEO

By Ashley King-Jones

For many years, I have thought about, worked at, and planned on becoming the next CEO of my family’s community bank—Three Rivers Bank of Montana.

I do not take this potential leadership responsibility lightly or for granted. Over the years, I have observed my father, John R. King, who is our community bank’s present CEO, help grow our $120 million-asset community bank. I’ve watched how he draws respect from his 40-member staff, easily embraces and adapts to change, never stops learning, and helps employees at all levels reach their career potential.

Not surprisingly, my father is my professional role model. He has taught me the importance of standing up for my beliefs and recognizing employees for their contributions to the bank and our community.

Meanwhile, Three Rivers Bank of Montana’s chief financial officer, Patti Leichliter, is my mentor. Having a female influence in my career has provided a balanced perspective, which I appreciate. Under her guidance, I am developing additional confidence, knowledge and insight that will better prepare me to lead the bank in the years ahead.

In addition to the lessons my father and colleagues have taught me, I’ve discovered that I also want to become an approachable leader. I want to build and foster a workplace environment where all employees are encouraged to speak with others—even with members of our senior management team—about fresh ideas or creative suggestions. I want to continually better our bank and each team member who works here. I also want our bank to have a reputation for developing and promoting its employees throughout their careers.

I do enjoy working in a team environment. Most of my leadership roles have been in a group environment since our CEO feels that the more people who contribute to a new process or project, the better the buy-in. Still, if I were CEO, I would need to possess the experience, knowledge and wisdom to make tough decisions whenever necessary to improve our bank’s operations, customer service and bottom line. As a leader, I would also make obtaining the most innovative technology a priority, which will continually make our bank more efficient and our customers’ lives more convenient.

Although I hold a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing, there’s still plenty for me to learn. Every day, I try to gain more knowledge in every aspect of our community bank’s operations, so if the day hopefully comes when I become CEO, I will fully understand everything about how the bank operates. This experience is also helping me gain confidence in expressing my thoughts and communicating my decisions, no matter how difficult they may be.

While growing as a community banker and as a leader, I am trying to take advantage of the wisdom and knowledge available to me now. I read leadership books and attend ICBA leadership and educational conferences. Looking ahead, I hope to be among those community bankers who effectively lead, inspire and grow with others around me.

Ashley King-Jones (aking@3riversbank.com) is the marketing officer and loan processing officer at Three Rivers Bank of Montana, in Kalispell, Mont.