Chris Lorence: Don’t fear change. Embrace it

By Chris Lorence, ICBA

Change is a constant. As a leader, you are always anticipating the next steps, preparing for what’s ahead and assessing how your team is doing. But what if your mindset is actually limiting you and your team from tapping into unrecognized potential? What if what got you here won’t get you there?

Many people adapt quickly to change and look for opportunities. Others resist, lamenting and holding firm in hopes of gathering enough strength to prevent change. Still others create the change that others will be forced to address. As a leader, what you do and say will create the narrative that your team will not only absorb but repeat in their own minds and in their actions.

Being self-aware is critical to success. Our attitude, verbalized opinions and even our body language play a role in how those around us respond to change. How can you harness the power of your instincts, learn from your experience, gather information and inspire your own curiosity so you continue to grow and evolve?

Our attitude and even our body language play a role in how those around us respond to change.

Check the narrative in your head. Has a previous experience with change left you jaded and less than open to exploring new opportunities? It may be time to revisit the experience, but change the perspective from “What happened to me?” to “What did I learn and how did it make me a better leader?” Since you are the one constructing and telling the story, it’s important that you know what you’re saying to yourself. By retelling the story from a different perspective, you may find that what was once a sensitive subject is now an opportunity.

Redefine success. So many times as leaders, we get caught in the nuts and bolts of traditional measures of success, like quotas, budgets and productivity of employees. While all of these are good benchmarks, consider expanding upon them. You might include indicators like employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, market share, brand recognition or being a customer’s primary financial institution. Teams that are happy and focused on making customers happy will lead to a positive bottom line.

Build a learning organization. When leaders put an emphasis on information exchange while also encouraging individuals to develop their expertise, the entire organization benefits. Empowered learners who share their knowledge can help organizations be nimbler while making the most of change. As a leader, building a learning-oriented organization can be what separates your community bank from any other financial provider.

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