|The Books Bankers Live By, 2008 (February 2008)|
Charlie Funk, president & CEO, Iowa State Bank & Trust Co., $572.8 million-assets, Iowa City, Iowa.
The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty, Gotham, by Adrian Wojnarowski.
I read this book over the Christmas holidays this year. It is one of the most compelling sports books I’ve ever read. If you are a basketball fan, you’ll have a tough time putting the book down once you start. You do not have to look far to see that there are many lessons to be learned as a business leader from this book.
Bob Hurley is one of America’s most-respected high school coaches and he’s been doing it for more than 30 years. He continues to obtain tremendous results—both on and off the court—though the odds keep getting longer as the years pass from his post in inner-city Jersey City, N.J.
One of the takeaways from this book is that one needs to stick to the fundamentals of what one believes. I firmly believe that this applies to banking, not just to basketball! Fads come and fads go (sub-prime lending, anyone?), but fundamentals and tried-and-true practices more often than not are successful year after year if the fundamentals are applied correctly.
Great leaders know that while there are basic rules that apply to everyone, not every person in a company or on a team is treated equally. It amazed me as I read this book that Hurley treats each unique situation (and there are many, with the collection of players he has who come from all types of backgrounds) in a different manner. One player may draw a suspension for a seemingly minor act, while another might continue playing despite committing several transgressions.
But at the end of the day, just as in business, Coach Hurley has his “line in the sand,” which led to the suspension of one of St. Anthony’s top players prior to the state tournament final.
Fully understanding each problem and the human dynamics of each individual usually gets Hurley to a very good decision. Just as in banking!
Finally, as a parent and big supporter of the educational community in a prosperous town in Middle America, reading
The Miracle of St. Anthony sent home the message loud and clear that we as a nation are not doing enough to educate our children. That message is driven home repeatedly as we learn about the backgrounds of the characters in this book. Educators and coaches such as Bob Hurley deserve our respect and thanks and I am committed that our banking organization will continue to support our K-12 educational systems in all of our trade areas.
Roger Claypool, president and CEO, Shelby County State Bank, $212.3 million-assets, Harlan, Iowa.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Simon & Schuster, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
This is not really a business book, but it’s an outstanding study of the leadership style and skills of Abraham Lincoln. It’s a tough read, due to the numerous direct quotes from various key individuals—the style of language was very different in the mid-1800s. But I found it well worth the time it took to read over 900 pages.
The author’s historical account is a truly great example of the value of the diverse opinions of a diverse team, and of how a leader can create unity among that team.
The communication of the day—sans phone, fax, cell, etc.—is also quite interesting.
The many attributes of Lincoln are illustrated in such a way to enlighten every reader as to why Lincoln is revered as one of the best leaders in the history of our country.
Debra R. Lins, president and CEO, Community Business Bank, $61.1 million-assets, Sauk City, Wis.
You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference, Sanborn & Associates, Inc., by Mark Sanborn.
This book compares how a manager versus a leader leads and what characteristics each displays. Sanborn provides this key definition: “Leadership is the art of getting extraordinary performance from ordinary people.”
I used this book as part of the kickoff to our officers’ planning session this past fall. I had the opportunity to share many of the author’s key points on how a leader communicates and his view on what makes a manager versus what makes a leader.
Here are three examples from Sanborn:
• Concerning change. Sanborn says that managers react to change, leaders create change.
• Concerning people. Managers direct groups, leaders create teams.
• Concerning attitude. Managers take credit, leaders take responsibility.
The book talks about mastering leadership as a lifelong process, and that many times we will revert to what we know, so that we are all a “WIP” (work in progress).
We will use the book’s lessons, moving forward, to work at incorporating the skill set needed to be effective leaders, and to build an organization that is a viewed as a leader in the communities that we serve.
As Sanborn maintains, everyone in an organization can do this; we do not need a title to lead. Sanborn goes on to say:
“What we need is nothing more nor less than a burning desire to make a positive difference and an awareness of the opportunities to lead that present themselves each day—at work, at home, with our friends and relatives, within our communities.”
One other interesting point: As bankers we all think we know what ROI is. Yet Sanborn defines it much differently: R=relationships; O=outcomes; I=Improvements.
Mike Murphy, executive president and chief financial officer, First American Bank, Norman, Okla.
Winners Never Cheat: Everyday Values We Learned As Children (But May Have Forgotten), Wharton School Publishing, by Jon M. Huntsman.
This is one of my favorite business books. The book’s focus is that we learned everyday values as children, but we may have forgotten them. It discusses honesty and integrity, setting the example, picking your friends and associates, and getting mad—but not even. I like that last one.
One of my favorite quotes from the book (and there are many) is: “Gray is not a substitute for black and white. You don’t bump into people without saying you’re sorry. When you shake hands, it’s supposed to mean something. If someone is in trouble, you reach out. Values aren’t conveniently molded to fit particular situations. They are indelibly etched in our very beings as natural impulses that never go stale or find themselves out of style.”
I am planning on rereading it soon as it is a great and simple reminder of who I want to be. I have shared it with others on my staff as well.
John A. Tyson, senior vice-president and COO, Darby Bank & Trust Co., $711.9 million-assets, Vidalia, Ga.
The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees), Jossey-Bass, by Patrick Lencioni.
I’d recommend Patrick Lencioni’s latest book, the sixth of his “fable” books. He tackles the question of why so many people are unhappy at work. The issue is a popular subject with so many companies, all citing high employee turnover as one of their biggest problems. Many consulting firms argue that higher worker motivation, among other things, improves productivity, staff retention and, ultimately, results.
The root cause of job dissatisfaction, the author states, is that the basic social needs of employees are not being met. People don’t go to work merely to perform a function or get paid. They go to “get a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, sanity, and community.” Workers are unhappy if they feel that their bosses don’t know or care who they are; if they can’t figure out why their job matters to others; and if they have no way of measuring that effect of their work.
He calls these problems “anonymity,” “irrelevance,” and “immeasurability.”
We’ve been using this topic of employee engagement or job satisfaction to better understand the levels of productivity of our bank employees. And more importantly, to try and improve the work environment to improve their level of engagement with the work. We spend more time at work than we do at home, so we need to be happy with the work. We also know that only by engaging the employee can we expect to engage our customers.
The electronic version of this article available at: http://lb.ec2.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sb/ababj0208/index.php?startid=18
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