Top 5 Leadership Lessons To Become “The Best Bank To Work For” In 2019

By October 24, 2019Banking

When someone with a background working at big banks becomes the CEO of a community back, what lessons do they learn? In this episode, Ed Barry brings 5 Leadership Lessons from his experience as CEO of Capital Bank. He talks about committing to change, defining the culture, and allowing employees to take risks.

Ed Barry is the CEO of Capital Bank. He has grown the bank to $1.3bmm in assets and rapidly expanded it throughout the DC and Baltimore areas.  Capital Bank has consistently been recognized as one of the top-performing banks in the U.S.   In 2019, American Banker named Capital Bank one of the Best Banks to Work For and one of the Top 200 Community Banks.

Ed’s background in banking ([01:52] -[02:38])

Ed is the CEO of Capital Bank in Washington, DC. He worked a variety of roles in big banking institutions before becoming CEO of Capital. He now brings those skills and experience to a smaller institution and takes a non-traditional approach to banking.

Leadership Lesson 1: Commit and Declare ([05:45][07:23])

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When Ed first started at Capital Bank, he went to the head of HR and asked – “Why do people work here?” The Head of HR did some surveys and got back to him. The number 1 reason employees worked there was because it was close to where they live. If the bank were to move location, everyone would leave. Ed decided that they needed to change that. They needed a new talent model and a new way of recruiting so they could have people who wanted to build an organization. He knew that this would cost money, cause a lot of turbulence, and the pay-off wouldn’t be seen for some time.

Leadership Lesson 2: Creating the right culture ([14:06][15:44])

Every organization has a culture. The way people interact, who gets rewarded, and who gets punished. They wanted to throw that all out and decide what they wanted the culture to be and then hold people accountable to that. They wanted entrepreneurial people. They wanted to be fast-moving. They wanted people who weren’t afraid to take risks and weren’t scared to fail.

Leadership Lesson 3: They focused on recruiting stars ([22:56][25:01])

They focused on recruiting stars, but if things didn’t work out, they moved on very quickly. Influential people who fit your culture are worth 10x an average person. They inverted their recruitment process. One of the first people the interviewee met was Ed. The CEO started the hiring process. Ed would interview based on values, and then they would meet with other people to see if they could technically do the job.

Traits he looks for when recruiting ([25:01][29:56])

  • People that were uneasy and unhappy to have to wait for someone to retire to move up
  • People who wanted to make a change, try things and have an impact

Leadership Lesson 4: Pushed responsibility and accountability down ([29:56][33:40])

Banks can be very hierarchical, and again, Ed and his team looked at inverting it. People are allowed to make decisions, but if it’s wrong, they are accountable for the results. He encourages his senior staff to let the people underneath make decisions.

How they structure the risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit ([33:40][37:26])

They encourage people to take chances but put structures in around monitoring it. They look at defining success, measuring what is happening, and involving the right people.

Leadership Lesson 5: Employee Recognition ([39:11][44:19])

People work for rewards and recognition. People don’t leave because of money, and it is always something else (even if they say it’s money). Ed and his team looked at what they could implement that would help retain employees. They built up their recognition program. There is a system for soliciting feedback from their associates to get a sense of where people’s struggles are. They built an active training and mentoring program.

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