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Inside UMB: How a positive leader boosts productivity

SVP/Private Wealth Regional Manager Brent Nicholson was honored with a 2018 UMB Leadership Award for the dignity and respect he demonstrates in his relationships with his team and across the company. We asked Brent about the most important traits a leader should embody and asked his team members about how Brent exemplifies those traits. The following is from a Q&A session with Brent and his team.

Q: How has a focus on positivity impacted your team’s culture? 

A: I expect my team members to, if nothing else, come to work with a positive attitude. Some days it might be harder than others—we all have things to deal with outside of work. Some days are easier than others, but if we have a positive attitude and do the best we can every day, it will all balance out in the end.

Staying positive is an important part of managing your workload and being a leader. Developing positive relationships with your team members fosters a better work environment, which leads to increased productivity.

Brent Nicholson and teamWhat his team says:

“It’s clear Brent truly values and appreciates others,” said SVP/Private Banking Client Manager Brad Hutchins. “And when people feel like they’re valued and appreciated, they’re much more efficient and eager to complete their duties. When you feel respected, you want to do your best work.”

“With Brent, I know I want to work harder so I can support what the team is doing,” shared VP/Private Banking Client Manager Clinton Encinias. “I’ve encountered all kinds of different leaders, good and bad, and I’ve learned that a leader’s style can make a huge difference in all aspects of your work life and your productivity.”

Q: How do you ensure each of your team members feel respected?

A: I try to put myself in the place of the people with whom I work. I just try to treat people the way I like to be treated. When I was in their role, I appreciated a leader who treated me with respect, valued my opinions, demonstrated confidence in my abilities and checked in without micromanaging—that’s what I strive to be for my team.

What his team says:

“Brent doesn’t micromanage—he allows people to use their expertise,” Brad said. “Of course, he coaches and helps people along the way, but he gives people the freedom to use their skills and talents. You never feel like you’re trapped in a situation where you’re just being given orders to follow.”

Q: People say your positive attitude is contagious. How do you do it?

A: I never ask team members to do something I wouldn’t do myself. As a leader, I try to demonstrate the good qualities I expect of my team. If I come in every day with a positive attitude and demonstrate the positive work environment that can create, my team will see that and try to emulate it.

What his team says:

“When you see dignity and respect demonstrated by a leader, that clues you into what the corporate culture is about,” Brad said. “People look at leaders and make determinations about how they should behave based on how the leader behaves. So when Brent treats people with dignity and respect, it cements the fact that this is how we do business.”

Q: What’s your best tip for those who want to be a leader at work?

A: It doesn’t matter if you’re the best team member, or the smartest. If you can come in with a good attitude and treat people with respect, you can be a good leader.

What his team says:

“Brent cares a lot about recognizing accomplishments on the team,” Brad said. “He very rarely talks about himself—he makes a point to include the team’s effort and how they have contributed to every success. He’s very inclusive and understands the impact of each team member’s contributions. I’ve never seen him make somebody feel like they’re inferior to him.”

“Brent is the definition of someone who is always trying to do the right thing,” Clinton said. “He inspires that same initiative and drive in everyone he works with, especially his team. He is always encouraging us to do the right thing and ensuring we have his support. I know whether I come to him with good or bad news, he’ll make sure we make the right decision for our customers and our company.”

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