American Banker ranks “The Most Powerful Women in Banking”

Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, tops American Banker’s “Most Notable Women in Banking” list for 2019. “From wrestling with the potential impact of Brexit to charting a course for responsible artificial intelligence, this year’s Most Powerful Women in Banking have faced many challenges during the past year,” the magazine notes. Behind Bessant in the top 10 are Ellen Alemany, chairman and CEO of CIT Group; Nandita Bakhshi, president and CEO of Bank of the West; Diane Reyes, group general manager and global head of liquidity and cash management at HSBC; Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America; Jane Fraser, Citigroup’s chief executive for Latin America; Thasunda Duckett, chief executive of Chase consumer banking for JPMorgan Chase; Diane Morais, president of consumer and commercial banking products for Ally Financial; Stacey Friedman, general counsel at JPMorgan Chase; and Andrea Smith, chief administrative officer at Bank of America.

Eight key strategies for great leadership

What makes someone a great leader is being authentic in the way they form true connections with others and inspire them to be their best selves, argues Laura Garnett. In this Inc. blog post, she describes eight strategies that she finds critical to great leadership: 1. Do the work of knowing yourself. 2. Learn how to manage your own motivation and engagement. 3. Know how to fully embrace differences. 4. Review your behaviors with inclusiveness in mind. 5. Embody your vision, expectations and cultural norms at all times. 6. Create a safe environment for your people to be themselves. 7. Empower employees to fulfill your vision. 8. Get regular feedback. “What I’ve learned about leadership is that it tends to be just another word for being the best version of you, on a large scale,” Garnett writes.

America’s top CEOs call for better corporate citizenship

Earlier in August, the lobbying group Business Roundtable made a call to its members to “share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” while pledging “to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.” The group specifically mentioned investing in employees by compensating them fairly and providing important benefits, and offering more training opportunities for them to develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. “It is, without a question, a huge deal,” Rick Wartzman notes in Fast Company. “The pressure for business to put an end to shareholder primacy has been building from a variety of quarters. Younger workers, in particular, are looking for employers that have a loftier purpose than merely maximizing their profits.” Wartzman admits the Roundtable’s new agenda will not be easy to achieve, but claims it is worth the effort. “The words of the Roundtable—a Who’s Who of those at the helm of the largest U.S. corporations, from Abbott to Zebra Technologies—matter a lot. In the end, though, it is the actions of Roundtable members that will matter the most,” he concludes.

The power of empathetic leadership

The primary role of the CEO is having the capacity to influence and mobilize people, and empathy is critical to accomplishing those goals, claims Andrea Jung, CEO of Grameen America, a microfinance organization. “An organization’s culture and practices run deep but there’s always a softer side. This does not mean that as a leader you have to be a weak negotiator,” Jung told Ellevate in a Forbes article. “It does mean that you have to attempt to understand where others are coming from to bridge the gap.” Empathetic leaders find a healthy balance that supports both the employees and the business. “The quality of the big decisions comes back to having the understanding to make the right judgment calls, the experience to back up the decisions you’re making, the courage to make the difficult decisions all leaders must make, and finally to bring an empathetic approach to the forefront when decision-making,” Jung said.

Embracing service in HR

One aspect of the HR leader’s reputation that is often overlooked is the level of service provided to colleagues, clients and partners, argues Alex Moral. “One could argue that the modern HR leader is all about service, because the role is more consultative than it has been in the past,” he writes in a TalentCulture blog post. “HR leaders consult on HR technology, offer advice on benefit plans and provide guidance on financial well-being programs.” Moral believes in the power of persistence when it comes to the level of service HR leaders deliver. “Just because your colleagues/internal clients are busy isn’t an excuse to let your service slip,” he writes. “Make a point to check in with her once a week for a five-minute chat.” Establishing a reputation as a service leader also depends on being consistently responsive, listening with intent and forming connections. “We don’t often talk about service in our industry, but it’s definitely an area that can make a massive impact on your reputation as an HR leader. I’ve seen many HR leaders embody the qualities, skills and ideas above—and I’ve seen a few who have not. Those who have embraced service in our industry have been successful,” Moral concludes.

How HR can help develop leaders

Successful managers empower successful business outcomes, which is why HR needs to be a driving force in developing leaders. This HR Director article looks at five key ways HR can impact leadership development to drive organizational success. 1. Leadership training and development. HR can take an active role in making sure that managers are effectively trained to be the best leaders they can be, as well as identifying future leaders through mentorship opportunities. 2. Promotion systems. Along with promotions based on technical skills, HR needs to ensure it looks at a potential promotion based on a range of soft skills as well, including communication, conflict resolution and change management. 3. Employee-centric approach. It’s HR’s responsibility to define effective leadership and set clear expectations. 4. Helping managers take a team-based approach. HR can help leaders empower their individual teams by equipping them with processes for coaching, training and mentoring within teams. This also involves helping leaders learn how to identify potential future leaders. 5. Collaboration with senior management. HR needs to identify what leadership roles affect business strategy to ensure expectations are met and processes are followed.

What makes a great remote team? Ask Google

In a quest to create the perfect remote team, Google researchers spent two years studying more than 5,000 employees. Justin Bariso, writing in Inc., says the study measured wellbeing, performance, and connectedness and came up with three recommendations on how to keep things consistent when work teams are spread out across the globe. 1. Get to know your people in order to build connections and establish rapport. 2. Set clear boundaries for communication, meetings and schedules. 3. Make an extra effort to connect on a personal level through messages and one-on-one meetings. “Traditional management principles still apply. The trick is to adapt them to the unique set of rules found in the virtual workplace. To do that, you need to use a little emotional intelligence,” Bariso concludes.

Top leadership takeaways from Davos 2019

In today’s chaotic world, the future belongs to those who can imagine, influence, create and collaborate, Henna Inam claims. In a Forbes blog post, she provides a detailed recap of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which took place in Davos, Switzerland, last week. “Throughout the week, I found evidence of leaders collaborating to create eco-systems of learning and action,” Inam writes. “There was a lot of conversation in Davos about the future of work for humans in the age of artificial intelligence (AI).” She recommends Accenture CTIO Paul Daugherty’s book “Human + Machine” to learn more about collaboration with AI in the future. Inam also highlights the Davos conversations on technology policy, climate change, gender equality and the next generation of leaders. “Leaders of the future will be committed to collaborating with others to move forward agendas that are in service of something other than their ego,” she writes. “We are surely not there today, but we need to get there urgently.”

Lead boldly in 2019

Doing the right thing is both good for its own sake and happens to be good for business, writes Bruce Weinstein in this Forbes Leadership Strategy article. He names three principled business leaders as good examples to follow in 2019 and beyond: Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet, Crazy Aaron’s Smart Putty CEO Aaron Muderick and Klymit CEO Cory Tholl. “One of the most deeply ingrained myths about business ethics is that ethical values vary from culture to culture. But just because a practice is accepted doesn’t mean it is acceptable,” Weinstein writes. “That’s why it was refreshing to hear Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet proclaim, ‘We have zero tolerance for people who violate our core values.’” He adds that bold leaders have three traits in common: creating a prosperous business, having loyal employees and being likeable people. “Julie Sweet, Aaron Muderick and Cory Tholl are three dynamic, accomplished CEOs who exemplify all of the above. The smart money next year and beyond is on leaders who follow in their footsteps,” Weinstein concludes.

Five ways to inspire workplace creativity

How can HR professionals inspire creativity in their workforces? Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, spoke at the Shift Conference where, according to HR Executive, he outlined five key ways to bring ideas to life: 1. Put your worst foot forward by pre-emptively pointing out flaws in your proposal to persuade others that you have given them due consideration. 2. Make the unfamiliar familiar by exposing an idea multiple times to help it gain traction. 3. Evaluate the agreeable givers (those most visible and vocal about helping make ideas happen) and disagreeable givers (those comfortable challenging the norms and presenting new ideas). 4. Recruit new allies by pitching a project to a team and seeing who can help move the ball forward. 5. Create a psychological safety net, where employees feel comfortable addressing ongoing workplace issues.

The importance of humility in leaders

According to Ryne Sherman, chief science officer at Hogan Assessments, while charismatic CEOs drive up stock prices and generate excitement among shareholders, the most effective leaders are those who have humility. Sherman’s audit of Indeed.com job listings unearthed more than 200,000 jobs stating charisma as a must-have trait, whereas fewer than 4,000 listings mentioned humility. “There’s a myth that the most effective leaders have charisma, and the data suggest that it isn’t true,” he says. Sherman cites research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, based on three studies of 800 business leaders from around the globe and approximately 7,500 of their superiors, peers and direct reports. The research revealed that, as charisma increased, so did perceived leadership effectiveness, but only until charisma reached the 60th percentile—any higher and perceived effectiveness decreased. “Humble leaders empower their teams to be successful, which leads to less turnover and absenteeism and reduces counterproductive behaviors, such as sabotaging their team,” Sherman says. “Additionally, employees working for humble leaders are more engaged and don’t mind spending free time on work, which significantly increases an organization’s productivity.”

The four Ps of leadership

Successful leaders combine the skills and attributes of both leadership and management, claims Tim McClimon, the president of the American Express Foundation. In this Forbes guest column, he outlines what he calls the “Four Ps of Leadership.” 1. Purpose to help inspire others to join in their pursuit. 2. Plan to know where they are headed and how to get there. 3. People that are committed to the purpose and plan. 4. Power to fuel the engine that drives the purpose and plan. “In order to motivate people, contemporary leaders also need to be inclusive,” McClimon writes. “Taking a cue from team sports, every member of the team has a critical role to play, and the success of the team is dependent on everyone being able to fulfill those roles successfully.”

Great leadership is about transforming others

“Great leadership is not about you, it’s about the impact you have on others,” argues Gene Hammett in this Inc blog post. He outlines the four qualities of transformational leadership: 1. Transforming others to grow teams from the inside out. 2. Inspiring confidence by focusing on learning instead of failures. 3. Transferring courage to have tough conversations and take up new strategies. 4. Transforming commitment to work by inspiring passion for the goals and mission of the organization. Hammett suggests having one-on-one conversations with employees about their fears and doubts in their work. “I treat these conversations more like a coaching session than a meeting to delegate new tasks, which makes my team feel appreciated,” he writes. “This results in a shift in their confidence, courage and commitment.”

Execution is key to great leadership

“Great leaders are able to drive their ideas through the organization. It makes no difference if the organization employs 50 people or 5,000, or if the organization is a government or the Allied powers. The test, the measurement of leadership is the same: It’s about getting things done,” writes Samuel Bacharach in this Inc. blog post. He believes there are four common denominators to great leaders when successfully executing their ideas: 1. They anticipate where others are coming from and can temper resistance appropriately. 2. They mobilize coalitions of likeminded individuals. 3. They negotiate the buy-in for their ideas with a bit of give-and-take along the way. 4. They sustain momentum even when an idea that once showed promise limps along.

People, leadership are key to success in digital transformation

“While the motivating factors for digital transformation initiatives differ across industry sectors, six factors generally determine the success of these projects: leadership, people, agility, business integration, ecosystem and value from data,” writes Bob Violino in an Information Management article. He cites a February 2018 study by the technology company Fujitsu Ltd., which surveyed 1,535 C-suite executives across 16 countries. The finance industry has advanced the furthest in digital transformation, the report said, with about 90 percent of respondents in that sector already engaged in digital transformation, and 30 percent of projects showing successful outcomes. Violino also highlighted the study’s findings on artificial intelligence (AI): A majority (68 percent) of respondents think the future will involve people and AI working collaboratively.

Why introverts can make great leaders

While a recent Harvard Business Review poll revealed that 65 percent of executives view introversion as a barrier to being a great leader, executive leadership coach Leo Aspden believes introverts have the potential to be first-class leaders with the right coaching. He highlights some of the many leadership qualities introverts possess, such as listening skills, working in solitude, and making calculated decisions. “The ability to make the right decisions is a key skill that all leaders must possess. Introverts are known for their strategic thinking and clever preparation; they don’t make rash decisions,” Aspden writes. Introverts are also great at being the balancing act to the extroverts in their teams. “While having a team of excitable extroverts keeps the office mood high, introverts can balance this by creating a peaceful, calming atmosphere where colleagues feel safe and accepted to be creative and share their ideas,” he writes.

It’s time to part with the leadership hierarchy of the 1980s

According to Maile Carnegie, head of digital at ANZ Bank, the classical 1980s hierarchy of legacy companies is no longer effective today. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review’s Gerald Kane, she advocates for distributed leadership, one that’s about shifting leadership, skills and capability while moving to agile. “Today’s leaders need to lead through influence rather than through command and control,” Carnegie argues. “That’s quite hard for people who have really only had one quiver in their leadership bow, which is command control.” She believes success in the 20th century was defined by managing others who did the work, instead of actually doing the work. “You have people who were at one point a great marketer or a great data scientist or a great software engineer. They then got promoted, and the promotion meant they were no longer actually doing their craft. So, the first thing to focus on is to get people back at being excellent at their craft—their technical mastery.” Legacy companies should also let go of their fear of failure, she argues. “One of the really interesting things you see in these more contemporary companies is that they’re failing every single day to achieve their purpose, and they’re comfortable with that,” she says.

Banks turn to design thinking

Design thinking is simply “applying the principles of design to the way people interact with the world.” This post from The Financial Brand points out that design thinking is not a new concept, yet it is somewhat new for financial services firms. The article gives two examples of banks looking at design thinking solutions: BBVA and Capital One. BBVA launched “Design Thinking for Leaders” to help the bank innovate and design for its customers. “All employees, regardless of their role, should begin to see themselves as a designer that contributes to improving the customer experience,” BBVA’s Head of Marketing, Rob Brown, told The Financial Brand. Capital One hired a former head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group and acquired consulting design firm Adaptive Path in 2014 to help fuel initiatives based on design thinking. “The banking sector is going through a period of disruption, but this is not the end of the industry,” says Dieter Staib, a partner with Oliver Wyman. “Instead, this disruption marks the genesis of the banking sector’s new DNA: a combination of changes in business models, agile execution, and design thinking.”