“To succeed in this environment, we must focus on the things we can control and remain positive, and that’s become my daily mantra.”
The new year brings with it a fresh start. We continue to face no shortage of challenges in 2021, from a divided nation to an ongoing health crisis. Yet, as community bank leaders, we need to flip our perspectives and find the potential in the moment. I recognize that’s easier said than done, and that’s precisely why we must lead by example, inspiring our teams and communities to keep moving forward. It’s our job to raise spirits so we can keep advancing in support of our communities.
While 2020 introduced new and difficult dynamics, community banks have always adapted to external events by evolving to serve our customers better. Last year, we just faced different variables and outside forces driving change — and we responded accordingly. From creating new electronic delivery channels to introducing more robust mobile offerings, new solutions emerged to meet customer needs. And as time marches forward, we can anticipate that same level of expectation around our continued support.
No matter what’s going on in the world around us, we are in the politics of community banking. Regardless of party preference, congressional majority or any number of politicized topics, it’s up to us to advocate on behalf of Main Street America and what’s right for them from a financial services perspective.
That’s why we’re working on ICBA’s Wake Up campaign to create a more level playing field with credit unions. It’s why we push for greater public awareness of the importance of community banks to local and national economies. It’s why we continue to advocate for regulatory relief to help community banks do what we do best: serve our communities.
To succeed in this environment, we must focus on the things we can control and remain positive, and that’s become my daily mantra. It’s a universal message: No matter the obstacles you face, you have to look for the good. This mentality pervades how you live your life, run your bank, take care of your community, treat your staff and more. As community bankers, we’re here to positively affect our communities, and we need to concentrate on the places where we have an impact.
Now more than ever, it’s time for us to knuckle under for community banking. Let’s focus on strengthening our industry, communities and teams and putting our shoulders to the wheel to move forward. Together, we can do our part to make the world a better place, one positive development at a time.
My top three fresh start ideas for 2021:
- Inspire your team. Remind them what they do matters.
- Live your beliefs. Emphasize your values-based plans in 2021.
- Have some fun. Bring needed levity to the community.
Noah Wilcox, ICBA Chairman, President, CEO and Chairman, Grand Rapids State Bank, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Connect with Noah at Pres@NWWilcox