Jennifer SobottaThe BOLT Winter Leadership Summit—held in Stevens Point on November 7—was a day full of thought-provoking presentations and professional networking. Over 120 attendees accepted the challenge to bring their “ah ha” moment back to their banks and act on it.

Jackson Hataway kicked off the morning by leading a discussion on how leaders communicate to create a culture where all employees are in the flow of innovation. How consumers interact with companies have banks being compared with Amazon and other digital brands. As digital and self-service dominate brands demonstrate – time is a valuable commodity, and we need to use technology to remove friction from the customer experience. That doesn’t mean the branch goes away; it means the role of our bankers is changing. Our people are here to solve the immediate problem for the customer and to enhance our brand, and our cultures must support rapid communication that focuses on our strategy.

Patrice McGuire built on the framework of the morning discussion and worked with the group on effective communication. By prioritizing what’s important to communicate and implementing strategies to make our interactions less challenging, we all can move to more positive conversations in our teams. Remember, your people want to do well, work in a positive environment, deserve to know what’s happening, remember you by your last worst behavior, and leave leaders, not companies. Make every conversation with your team count!

Dennis McIntee tied together all the topics of the day as he got the group talking about drama free leadership. As leaders, we need to understand that nothing changes in our banks until our behavior changes. We need to be aware of the behaviors that cause negativity and drama in our day, create responsibility for those behaviors, and motivate our teams to change. What behaviors we as leaders fail to address, we are approving of. Events during our days sometimes can’t be controlled, yet we can control our own response and influence the outcome. We may have a great strategy at our organizations, but a culture of drama will eat that strategy for lunch.

A successful day at the BOLT Summit isn’t just the number of notes taken during the presentations. The long-term connections made during peer group discussion creates a knowledge network that is there when our industry and organizations face our next challenge.

See you all at the Summer Summit, June 11-12, 2019 in Wisconsin Dells!

Sobotta is VP/Marketing Director with Forward Bank in Marshfield and serves on the WBA BOLT Board of Directors.