Securing Your Place as a Leader

By Nicholas R. Bandoch

A contronym is a word with two opposite meanings. You can dust something, which may be adding fine particles to, or removing them from. Off may refer to deactivating, or activating — like an alarm. Bolt may mean to flee; it may also mean to secure.

After four-plus years as a member and three years on the committee, WBA’s BOLT — Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow — has helped me further secure my place as a leader. I would encourage other leaders at all stages of their careers to participate in BOLT events and be an active member. Here are my top takeaways from the various speakers and my active participation over the past few years.

1. Be flexible in your communication style. I sit on the gap between Millennials and Gen Xers. I work with Baby Boomers and Gen Zs. Bankers at different stages of their careers and at different ages of life have different expectations regarding communication and the channels we choose. Great leaders adapt and tailor messages appropriately to their audiences. Thanks to Dr. Melissa Furman for her recent presentation on “Leading within a Generationally Diverse Organization.”

2. Mindset matters. Hokey? Probably. True? Definitely. A standout lesson from me was from famed former Kimberly football coach Steve Jones. He encouraged a shift in mindset from “I have to” to “I get to.” I get to read my son a book each night. Not every parent is so lucky. Leaders must tackle challenging problems. They don’t have; they get to. And their careers are better from the lesson they learn along the way.

3. Community banking matters. We all long for meaningful work, and we should be proud that we “get to” support our local communities. When macroeconomic trends are challenging, banks often catch flack in the media. But we were there as economic first responders during the pandemic. And we’ll be there for the next crisis, too. Because we know our communities rely on us.

4. Plan the work. Work the plan. It’s essential for leaders to find time to work on the business, not in the business. We all succumb to checking small, but insignificant, things off of our to-do list, or answering the ding of the latest email or text. Good leaders create time to strategize and prioritize. Big projects require iterative steps. Force yourself to take them. Yard by yard is hard. Inch by inch is a cinch.

5. Work your network. You’ll be amazed at how many fellow bankers and leaders face the same challenges you do. With colleagues in the industry, you have “built-in” thought partners, idea generators, and consultants to swap solutions with. Use them. And return the favor. I truly appreciate all my bankers, and marketers, who respond to my emails that ask for assistance and feedback.

To learn more about BOLT, or register for a BOLT’s upcoming event, visit

Bandoch is senior vice president – marketing and communications at Tri City National Bank in Oak Creek