Enabling Others to Act

Southside Bank has tips on how to get your team moving.

By Harriet Harral
Executive Director
Leadership Fort Worth

When Tim Carter became president and CEO of OmniAmerican Bank in 2007, he knew he had a significant job to get the culture and people aligned so the bank could deal with some serious financial challenges. He developed a three-year leadership course to train all managers and get processes at the bank moving in the same direction.

The goal for the first year was, “One team, one goal, one million dollars.” They created a $4 million turnaround, and they did it by working in teams trained to all focus on the same goal.

The OmniAmerican story exemplifies one of the five tenets in a leadership model developed by James Kouzes and Barry Posner: Enabling others to act. This is the third in a series of columns in FW Inc. in which we have been exploring the Kouzes-Posner model. We have discussed:

  • Modeling the Way as demonstrated by Fidelity Investments,
  • Creating a Shared Vision and the success this created at GE Manufacturing.
  • Upcoming columns will highlight:
  • Challenging the Process as a core commitment at BNSF, and
  • Encouraging the Heart as a strategy to achieve goals.

This column will focus on the ways Southside Bank, which merged with OmniAmerican in 2014, established a culture of Enabling Others to Act.

“Exemplary leaders know they can’t do it alone,” Kouzes and Posner say. “Leadership is a team effort, not a solo expedition…(Leaders) share power and information as well as build the capabilities and capacities of others to be successful…By fostering collaboration, building trust, and facilitating relationships, leaders Enable Others to Act with increased self-determination and competence.”

To find this in action at the bank, look to when Southside Bank of Tyler merged with OmniAmerican. Once again, it was clear the two organizations needed alignment. Management surveyed employees to find their greatest concerns or needs.

Not surprisingly, communication and training were at the top of the responses. Groups of employees then met over several months to recommend the kind of training needed to equip managers with the tools to lead effectively.
They looked for a model program and realized that the program the OmniAmerican folks had gone through several years before was just what they needed. Carter, now market president for Southside Bank, was charged to help enable this larger employee base achieve the success he had at OmniAmerican.

The result is an eight-month program called Core Leadership. It includes modules on:

  • Lead with core values
  • Build talent
  • Coach and develop others
  • Promote teamwork
  • Influence others
  • Champion change
  • Manage disagreement
  • Speak effectively

Lee Gibson, president of Southside Bank, introduced the program to the bank’s managers this way: “At Southside, we strive to build leaders who seek innovation, demand excellence, and drive our success…Through this program, you will be taught valuable skills, enabling you to lead your team in the most successful way.”

Carter says that after the bank turned around financially back in 2008, he saw a commitment from managers to use teams to make decisions and develop processes. Morale improved; having people involved has been the best way to retain energized people. His advice to anyone seeking to enable others to act?

  • Have the courage to do it.
  • Channel the energy that will be created.
  • Have a game plan to rally around.
  • Give people time to think about the leadership legacy they wish to leave.

Harriet Briscoe Harral, PhD, is executive director of Leadership Fort Worth, an organization that empowers and connects diverse leaders to serve as catalysts to strengthen and improve the Fort Worth community. She is a regular contributor to FW Inc.