Chris Lorence: The platinum rule

By Chris Lorence, ICBA

Leadership is front and center in 2018. There is an endless stream of news from around the world that illustrates and illuminates the good, bad and ugly of leaders’ actions and decisions. Whether you’re running a community bank or a Fortune 100 global enterprise, both customers and employees have raised their expectations of leaders and of the organizations they lead. They want the best in service, solutions, opportunities and culture.

In today’s fast-paced, highly competitive financial services environment, how can bank leaders and their leadership teams elevate their effectiveness while driving increased market share and profitability?

Community banks, like many entrepreneurial organizations, are rooted in living by the “golden rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This simple, straightforward and solid core philosophy is universal whether you’re running a business or leading a team. Today, however, one rule is not enough, and the golden rule has been upgraded to platinum: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. In other words, treat them the way they want to be treated.

The platinum rule requires both business and leadership to know more, be more and deliver more. Customers and team members of all ages now want transparency and more than a one-size-fits-all approach to communication, service delivery, product offerings and organizational culture.

How it’s done
The good news is that tuning your leadership style and practices to include both gold and platinum is fairly easy and has an almost immediate impact. Consider the following:

  • Ask more questions to gain clarity on differences within your teams and organization. Positioning yourself as someone who wants to learn more helps create a culture where leader and team are a mutually dependent unit.
  • Engage with all levels regularly to learn how your vision is being articulated in the organization. Be mindful and ask yourself, “How am I showing up? How do I want to show up?”
  • When making changes, consider making smaller, more agile updates, with a larger team of influencers helping drive the action. Smaller changes, combined with frequent check-ins and assessment, can help reduce the stress often associated with change. More communication also allows for adjustments along the way versus huge sweeping changes that can disrupt progress or cause unintended uncertainty within the team.
  • Be willing and proactive in offering the “why” when communicating with your team and even your customers. Authenticity and transparency are highly valued and increasingly important when creating a workplace where employees are loyal and fully engaged in the organization’s mission.

As a community banker, leadership is paramount to the success of both your bank and the community it serves. Equally important is creating a culture that fosters high-quality leaders who attract and support a platinum workforce that can continue that success.

Chris Lorence ( is ICBA group executive vice president–member engagement and strategy.