Members of our staff are currently engaged in our regular, periodic look at our mission statement.
First question: do we know what our mission statement says? If we do, that’s good (and surprising.) I’ve come to recognize that most of our staff doesn’t know what our state notwithstanding a lot of effort to communicate what we’re all about.
The truth is, though, when we look around at how our colleagues behave, how they do their jobs and serve their clients, we can still be pretty encouraged. The culture of our business, a family-owned community bank, seems to reflect some common ideals: hard-work, mutual respect, generosity of spirit, teamwork, and professionalism for our clients. We apparently don’t need a “mission” to tell us how to do that, let alone a so-called “values statement.”
But this description of how we go about our jobs doesn’t really function as a de facto capital-M mission. This is because a community bank is a mission-driven business to a degree. Small banks like ours have charters, whether from the state or the federal government, to serve the needs and dreams of the neighborhoods where our staff and families live and work.
We are custodians of life savings, with all of the responsibility inherent in that role, but we are equally and simultaneously responsible for re-investing those savings in worth will help people live their lives more fully, creating wealth in their businesses and for their families.
This responsibility to look forward and backward at the same time for the benefit of our stakeholders, to balance competing drives of conservatism and progressivism, is why entails so profound a public duty. This is a critical element of any banking “Mission.” The challenge of achieving this balance consistently and well for the benefit of shareholders satisfaction of the wide range of bank stakeholders is hard work.
One benefit of this dual responsibility is that a bank exists “above the fray.”
Because we have to make risk-management decisions that ensure that the bank is present for the community tomorrow, and the day after that, we can foster and advocate t community as a whole, even when our particular business gains nothing directly for ourselves from the deal. Indeed, that’s precisely what we should do.
Our Grow Home vision, an ongoing celebration, and recognition of businesses and organizations across Kansas City is based on this premise. Through Grow Home, we take amazing businesses and business people and learn their stories. The stories we look for are ones that speak to the aspirations of our neighborhoods and knit together individuals in the community in which that effort finds support. We are indifferent to whether the stories we tell are about clients or not—because everyone in the communities we serve has to expect that Lead Bank is dedicated to the success of the larger whole. (Why else would the FDIC insure the deposits of banks?)
If the core of a community bank’s mission is serving its entire community for the greatest good for the most expansive future—in other words, to grow our shared home—we express that through storytelling and painting pictures.
We tell the stories of individual people who show us who we are, and then reveal the broad canvas in which those people thrive within—and because of—the larger whole.
Josh Rowland is CEO of Lead Bank in Kansas City, Missouri. Email: JRowland@lead.bank.