Chairman’s Column: Developing Your Bank’s Championship Culture

A championship culture is not developed within your bank overnight. Finding what works best for your bank takes hard work and dedication. The keynote speech “Creating a Championship Culture Within Your Organization” delivered by Dr. Fred Johnson on the final day of the 2021 Bank Executives Conference set out to explain how much impact culture truly has in our industry.  

Having worked with a range of Super Bowl teams, Johnson certainly carries an impressive insight to NFL champion mindsets. Still, I was intrigued to find out how he might tie this world together with the banking industry. To compare the strategies of your bank with those of an NFL team seems at first to be an odd consideration, but as Johnson puts it, the parallels are hard to miss.  

The championship teams stress chemistry above talent. They are not structured by the best players or collective of coaches. They are the ones that have players committed to everyone else’s success, beyond just the task at hand. As Johnson said, “It’s not just the plays; it’s the people.” 

The same is true at your bank where culture is the backbone of your operations. It indicates how comfortable each team member feels to be their best self and contribute their strengths in a way they know will be appreciated. A strong culture will be apparent to your customers as well. It will create an environment where they will want to do business.  

Looking forward to the rest of 2021, I anticipate more banks will continue developing and strengthening their culture, as it is not a one-size-fits-all situation. It must be carefully considered to accommodate each of your team’s players. At our bank we work to hire employees to fit our culture. Additionally, we believe prioritizing our employees’ well-being is critical. So, as we begin to end this year’s first quarter, we make certain to keep checking in on our employees and coworkers, being genuine in the face of change, and being honest in moments of uncertainty.  

Most importantly, remember that no one has their culture perfected. Assuring everyone feels respected, comfortable, and valued is not a competition, and there is no Super Bowl for the complexity of these plans. Even so, both require strategy, willingness, and endless dedication to making your team the best it can be. Johnson made it clear that building a championship culture is not about winning – it’s about how your team plays the game.  

By, Alex Paniagua