Countless times, every single day, customers are interacting with bank employees. Every transaction with the customer of a bank has the same singular goal; to provide a service that results in profit for the bank.

As the CEO of a bank well knows, every single interaction between an employee and a customer affects the bottom line. A great experience could secure the retention of that customer for years, just as one poor interaction may send a customer searching for the nearest alternative.

Attracting and retaining customers in the banking industry is almost entirely dependent on the relationships that are formed. Bank CEO’s understand the importance of instilling the mindset that “every contact with the customer counts”. Banking is an industry in which the success of the organization rests entirely in the hands of its people. For a banking organization to win the trust and loyalty of its customers, its employees must be at their absolute best.

For any banking organization to reach its highest potential, it is imperative that every person from the teller to the CEO owns the success of the organization. Easy to say, very tough to do. In my work as an executive accountability coach over the past twenty years  I have found that this type of ownership can only exist when there is a high level of personal accountability, starting at the top of the organization.


Personal Accountability In Your Banking Organization:

There is exponential power in personal accountability when it becomes collective; when the success of the organization as a whole is just as important as an individual’s pursuit of their own career goals.

Here is an example of how this plays out on a practical level…

A customer asks for information on how to make a bank deposit from their cell phone. In a highly accountable banking culture every person employed by the bank will do everything in their power to make certain that this customer’s need is met. They will do this even if this is not their particular area of expertise and they cannot personally meet the needs of the customer. They will link the customer to the information required until they are certain the customer’s need was met.

Why? Because they understand and own just how important customer satisfaction is in achieving success for the organization.

When the mindset of 100% ownership permeates the organization, the result for a bank is worth its weight in gold! This type of “ownership culture” is very difficult to compete with. The mindset of 100% ownership and collective personal accountability starts at the top; sustained customer retention and success cannot happen any other way.

“100% ownership requires brave leadership.”

My expertise is in creating a culture of 100% ownership individually and collectively within large organizations. Your customers know the difference. When they walk though the doors of your bank they can immediately tell if yours is an organization where everyone owns the results or if it’s just another bank where everyone  “does a job.”

The differentiation of your organization’s culture is essential. The time, energy and effort that your bank puts into its brand becomes hollow if every employee does not demonstrate ownership of your brand message.


Banking CEOs and Leadership Weigh In:

As part of my research for this post I surveyed over 100 CEOs and Executives in the banking industry and I asked them one simple question.

In one word, what personal quality or characteristic is most essential for someone who wants to be successful in the banking industry today?

This graphic represents their response:


Many of the words correlate with the principle of 100% ownership and personal accountability. These words belong to the accountability mindset and include integrityattitudecommitment and ethics.

It is difficult to imagine an organization that claims to believe in the principle of 100% ownership but does not also actively interview for and nurture these qualities in its employees. 100% ownership without the values of integrity and commitment would be both unlikely and undesirable.

Similarly these highly sought-after characteristics and values can only be nurtured and expressed within an organization where the leadership demonstrates their necessity with their own behavior.

The second set of words our leaders clearly and repetitively identified in their answers included adaptabilityflexibility and curiosity. It may be tempting to think that these values have little to do with the concepts of personal accountability and 100% ownership but it would be 100% incorrect to draw that conclusion. Let me explain…

An employee of a bank who is only committed to doing “their job” and who has little ownership for the success of the organization is unlikely to be adaptable or flexible. This type of individual will not be curious about anything else outside of their own office or cubicle.

The principle of 100% ownership inculcates the mindset that every employee, no matter what their role, is as important as any other employee to provide excellent service and retain customers. This principle invites employees to think creatively, to extend their skill-set and to learn to prevent and solve problems that were not primarily of their making. It’s impossible to foster a flexible and adaptable mindset in your organization if the “reward” is for focusing only on one’s job. That’s when you hear things like “Wow! the lending department’s customers are sure unhappy, glad that’s not MY department.” In a successful bank employees speak in terms of the whole, not departments, it sounds more like this, “The lending department has its hands full, how can I help?”


How To Foster A Culture Of Personal Accountability:

Banks are retail locations and customers want in-person contact. Making certain that your employees are “owning” the experience that your customers are having is the real challenge.

For your employees to deliver this type of value to your customers something very important must happen.To create a culture of personal accountability, you have to first witness a culture of personal accountability.

Again, it starts at the top. Is your top level executive group demonstrating high levels of integrity, positive attitude, ethics and commitment to each others’ success and the success of the organization?

I know of banking executives that tolerate yelling and other disrespectful behaviors during meetings when hard decisions have to be made. They pretend it does not affect the organization outside the room. The CEO allows and even watches such poor behavior without uttering a word while at the same time expecting the bank’s executives to be known for being flexible, adaptable, professional and curious about all aspects of the business. That simply doesn’t work.

You must do the hard thing to achieve the reward of a winning bank culture. Measure, evaluate, expect and require the types of characteristics that you know will result in success of your organization. Demonstrate them yourself if you are the CEO.

Public trust in financial institutions has been significantly eroded and the public is rightfully asking a lot of questions. I’ve witnessed many banking executives act as though they are being victimized by new regulations when a lack of personal accountability is what got us there in the first place. Yet others (the winners) without fault or blame, are working hard to regain the public’s trust through their actions. There is a real opportunity if there is a willingness to lead rather than react.

An exceptional organizational culture of personal accountability and 100% ownership is  quite remarkable in today’s competitive environment. And, we all know “remarkable” can mean positive word-of-mouth. It’s marketing at its best.


Your Competitive Advantage:

What kind of competitive advantage would you create if every member of your organization demonstrated ownership for a successful customer experience, top to bottom?

I am an expert at working with leaders to instill accountability in their organization from top to bottom. I would love to talk to you personally about your organization and how I can help you create a culture of personal accountability and 100% ownership. It’s an exciting time to compete in a vibrant and necessary industry like banking.  Please contact me here.

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