case study bank

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A leadership problem has developed at ABC Bank. Jerry, the sales director of the mortgage division, was just fired for engaging in poor ethical behavior and for losing the confidence of his staff. As a result, there are negative rumors circulating around the bank. Human resources director Pam thinks Jerry’s situation is the perfect example of why ABC Bank needs to implement a leadership development program. There has been very little, if any, ethical leadership development or training at the bank.

Bob, the CEO, told Pam to develop a framework for critical values, knowledge, and skills necessary for the kind of leadership the bank would like managers to practice—ethical, skilled, and proactive leadership. Pam presented her framework to the executive team, and they voiced mixed opinions about investing in such a leadership development program. However, the program has been approved, and you have been selected as the consultant who will implement this project. Pam is hopeful that you can help prevent other leadership problems from developing through executive coaching and team leadership development work with executive management team.

You are considering a plan to include a series of training, team development sessions, and individual coaching sessions over the course of a year. ABC Bank has agreed that Bob, the CEO, will work closely with you and attend all team trainings and meetings. You are would like to conduct quarterly evaluations of progress.

As you report to ABC Bank, Bob greets you in the lobby and asks that you sit in on the executive team meeting right away. He wants you to hear their discussion of what they see as the most critical issues today and to observe their teamwork.

Bob opens the meeting by explaining that he wants the team to start thinking more strategically about the company’s processes for developing leaders. He explains that it is important to get out of the reactionary mode and start thinking about development, and asks the team to consider best practices in leadership development.

Right away, you notice that the most vocal member is Paul, manager of the senior lending division, who answers almost every question based on “This is how we have always done it.”

Paul says, “I will be honest: I do not believe leadership development is an important focus—all of our management members are experienced leaders who know how to give directives and get the job done.” He is much more concerned about the new regulations, which will require more documentation and paperwork with the same amount of resources that were already overtaxed. It is unrealistic to require this level of documentation with the current staff.

Bertha, manager of compliance, is responsible for ensuring the bank’s practices match organizational, state, and federal practices and laws. She speaks up after Paul’s point about regulations. She says, “We have a plan for how this can be accomplished, but it will take the involvement of this entire team and I will need your direct staff to work with me more closely.” Paul jokes that Bertha is being “pushy.” Laughter follows Bertha’s comment, but Bertha is not laughing.

Ken, manager of the investments department, states that he believes some leadership training would be helpful. After all, Jerry got into trouble because he did not have the respect of his employees and he tried to gloss over some spending that occurred rather than account for dollars spent accurately. Had he put everything through Bertha’s compliance department, the problem would have been caught. However, it appears that the compliance department is not being used in a way that helps mitigate risk at the bank. Perhaps, if Jerry had had some leadership training, this disaster would not have occurred.

Paul says that training is not a bad thing, but there is no time. Spending time in this meeting right now is preventing them all from actually getting work done.

Team members agreed on only one thing: they are all under a lot of pressure that requires some strategic thinking. The new federal regulations requiring greater documentation and tracking of processes and procedures will likely take many hours of time and if they are not going to be able to hire more staff, they need a strategy to get this done. Matthew, manager of technology, agreed that they spend a lot of time in meetings with too many items on the agenda; thus, few decisions are made.

After the meeting, Bob and Pam ask your opinion about how the team functions and what strategy you have in mind for individual coaching, as well as for team development work. Bob emphasizes his hope that dialogue about leadership development and some training occur quickly so that the company can be more proactive in developing leaders.

As you walk out of the conference room, you glance up at the framed notice: ABC Bank, a place for teamwork, respect, dedication, and valuing diversity.

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