Authenticity, Courage and Collaboration

In our executive education courses, we seek to create deep learning. This means we give people exercises that create experiences that challenge and change existing beliefs. By learning from experience, the participants come to new beliefs and a new mindset. This new mindset empowers them and increases their ability to empower others. One example is giving people the opportunity to share who they really are by telling the core stories of their life. When people do this exercise, they often go home and present themselves in a new way. Here is a short account of a woman who manages a branch bank. She gains a new, collaborative vision, and she shares her authentic self with her direct reports.

Her Collaborative Vision

We are all part of a journey to create an extraordinary corporation. The things we need to solve for in the financial services industry have not yet been done in this new regulatory environment. We want to be an advice-driven bank that helps small business owners start up, maintain, and grow their businesses. We want to help our retail customers achieve their goals and dreams using the advice provided by their trusted advisor. To do this, we need to start with a passion to be the best bankers and work with a purpose, filled with pride to achieve it.

What She Shared With Her Direct Reports

All of us come with a series of core stories that have shaped who we are and what we believe in. At the expense of putting myself out there a bit today, I am going to share some of early memories that made me the person that I am today. I am going to take you back to my childhood. I am the youngest of five children. At the point in time I am going to share, my mother stayed home to raise the five of us while my father ran an insurance agency, a bar/restaurant, and five rental properties in a small town an hour south of the city of Buffalo.

In March, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Leukemia, and in July he passed away. I will never forget sitting on the floor in the living room surrounded by my siblings when my mother had the ominous task of telling us Daddy was not coming home.

What was remarkable is what happened after she told us. We put our backs up and we made a silent pact that day to work together for a higher purpose. Mom went back to school and got her insurance license and she ran my father’s business. She did not take time to dwell on the cards she was dealt. The five of us stuck together and did what we could to make each other’s lives better. We did not bicker; we made meals and helped each other with homework. We pushed each other out of our comfort zones with a determined purposed that created resilience and trust. I would not have traded one of these moments because it made me who I am today.

I share this story so that you have a window into what I value. I am 150% into the teams I am a part of. I do not know another way. I am transparent with what I know because I want us to be the best that we can be. I do not operate with an ego or my own self-interest. I have seen what a team can accomplish and know that it is better.

Does that mean there were not tough times along the way? No way. Does this mean I can promise you that I will get it right every time? No. But it should tell you the spirit in which I operate and what I stand for. I will push you out of your comfort zone if you let me because when I look at you I see what you can do, not what you have done. I believe in all of you and I am committed to running the journey next to you.

The legacy of this bank is going to be built on the actions each of you take over the next handful of years. And I believe it will be great and I am determined to prove that out.

The Outcome
The more we learn and share the better everyone is for it. Your story gave me the courage to share mine. We are at the end of a three-week calling challenge. I shared this and we had a solid hold on second place. We came back and crushed it after this meeting. The feedback I am getting is “we want to win this for you.” Funny how much relating to your leader drives discretionary effort in an amazing way.


  • What do you learn from reading her vision? Do you have a vision of purpose and collaboration?
  • What she shared with her direct reports was unconventional and therefore uncomfortable. Why did she do it? What did they feel and think? Why did the outcome occur?
  • What core story have you never shared that could inspire people to greater collaboration?




2 thoughts on “Authenticity, Courage and Collaboration

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