Why servant leaders have the strongest teams
VP/Regional Operations Manager Michele Reynolds was honored with a 2019 UMB Leadership Award for setting clear expectations for her team and associates across the company. Michele has occupied a leadership role for most of her 20 years at UMB. The below Q&A with Michele includes her insights about what it takes to be an effective leader and to help drive the performance of her team.
How would you describe your leadership style?
UMB believes in developing servant leaders, and that’s where I thrive. It’s all about being flexible, nimble and leading by example. When I first moved into the Operations Manager role, I didn’t quite understand how I could impact our branches. What I learned was each branch is like a bike wheel with a lot of different spokes, and the spokes represent all the different things that happen in a branch. As a servant leader, my job is to remove any wrenches that get stuck in the spokes, so I can help my team move smoothly through the day.
How can servant leaders build the most effective teams?
Establish checkpoints to communicate expectations.
My ultimate goal is for all of my branches to be operationally sound. My branch managers have weekly checklists, and I’ve created operational job cards for their associates and allotted time for completing operational duties. The bottom line is this: if you set clear expectations, your team will find success. And, when your team reaches success, they’ll be inspired to continue completing checkpoints.
It’s like making a cake with a solid base. It can’t taste funny; it has to taste wonderful. A branch that meets its checkpoints has a good cake base, and the rewards, benefits and income that follow are the icing on the top.
Start a dialogue for associates to express their needs.
I support branches in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois, and my teams know they can come to me for help. I invite them to share their needs by asking questions when I visit branches and meet one-on-one with managers.
For example, I’ll ask them, “How is the health of your branch?” This open-ended question allows them to reply with anything and gives me the opportunity to be a servant leader. I know I can express my needs, too. One of the most rewarding things about my job is knowing I can pick up the phone and call anyone across any part of our business for answers to my questions. I love how we focus on making sure we do not have silos within our company, and everyone across our footprint helps each other regardless of the department.
At UMB, we are one, completely across the board; it’s what I like most about our culture. It’s what lets us function completely as a team.
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