Creating an Engaged Culture with Lon Langston
This week we sit down with Lon Langston, founder of the Engaged Banker Experience. We discuss culture, leadership, and the cost of low engagement.
Lon has been studying and practically applying management and leadership since college. In 2010, he began to study behavioral economics. Over time, that expanded to all behavioral science, including the neurology and physiology that are inevitably linked. In 2016, Lon became Culture Curator for Heritage Bank and, subsequently, Chief People Officer for Heritage Southeast Bank (a holding company, which owns Heritage Bank, Providence Bank, and The Heritage Bank).
To learn more, visit https://engagedbankerexperience.com/
The views, information, or opinions expressed during this show are solely those of the participants involved and do not necessarily represent those of SouthState Bank and its employees.
[Intro]: Helping community bankers grow themselves their team and their profits, this is the Community Bank Podcast.
Caleb Stevens: Well hey everybody and welcome to episode 41 of the Community Bank Podcast. Thanks for joining us today. I’m your host, Caleb Stevens and this is a conversation designed to help community bankers grow themselves, their team, and their profits. Today I am super pumped for this conversation I will be speaking with Lon Langston. He’s a behavioral science expert. He’s a culture expert he worked for banks all over the country, helping them, increase the level of engagement, inside of their culture so super pumped for this discussion. Before we hop into that though I got a question for you. What do you do when a customer comes to your lenders and asks for a long-term fixed-rate loan. I’m talking 10 15 Maybe even 20 years. Do you take the risk do you take that loan you put on your balance sheet, or do you maybe try to talk them into a shorter term and risk losing their business going to another competitor?
That problem is exactly why we created the ARC program. ARC allows you to offer your customer, up to a 20-year fixed-rate loan while booking that loan at a floating rate on your balance sheet. And that’s without any Dodd-Frank reporting hedge accounting, all the things that come with a traditional back-to-back, interest rate swap that make your CFOs head spin. To learn more, go to South state correspondent dot com forward slash arc, that’s arc. South state correspondent dot com, forward slash, arc to see how we can help you offer your customers a structure and a rate that they can’t refuse. Also if you haven’t gotten Tom’s bond accounting report. Tom looks at the bond portfolios of all of our bond accounting customers about 130 or so. 10 12 billion in par value and looks at all the different trends that are going on in their bond portfolios.
And so if you’re wondering what your competitors are up to. If you’re wondering what their duration looks like their convexity unrealized loss or gain book eels all the different metrics that go into a bond portfolio, you can get that at sound state corresponded dot com forward slash bond report. South state correspondent dot com, forward slash bond report. We are super excited today to talk all about culture, self-awareness of how COVID is impacted culture. And as leaders, what are the things that we need to be focused on to make sure our people feel engaged feel valued, and are operating at a high-performing level, at your bank. So let’s jump into my conversation today with Lon Langston thanks for joining us.
Well, Lon thanks for hopping on the podcast today it’s good to see you in person we haven’t done many of these interviews in person. So man it’s just we were talking earlier that the sound quality is so much better, it’s just easier to have a discussion so thanks for coming into the office.
Lon Langston: Oh yeah, I love it. I mean, it’s a better experience for me also to be live and in-person so, but also know it works out better for the person listening, you know if you and I can interact. It just improves the sound quality, not the sound quality but the quality of the content.
Caleb Stevens: For sure, yeah, a lot of verbal cues and things that get missed I think when you’re just talking to somebody over the phone or even zoom in some cases.
Lon Langston: Yeah, absolutely.
Caleb Stevens: Well give us a little bit of your background, what you do at the engaged bank your experience and how did you kind of get into the banking sector to start with.
Lon Langston: Okay, so I guess that story has to start with the fact that I’m not a banker, and I’ve never been a banker, and I’m still not a banker. And that’s kind of one of the advantages I can bring is an external perspective, but I came up in the wholesale produce industry. And to me, that’s very different from banking, but a lot of the things that maybe are helpful to apply, but I worked for Mom and Pop companies and then some multi-billion dollar companies in the fresh produce industry for a long time, and that kind of culminated in me owning my own production company, and it was a wholesale produce company that I sourced and transported and then repacked produce from all over the country, and we would bring it here to Atlanta and repack it and then distributed all around the southeast in the Caribbean. And so that company at its peak was distributing 1.2 million pounds of produce every week, and I had 62 employees, and I’m working with these people every day and I realize you know what these people are not reaching their potential.
And so I’ve been studying management leadership. Ever since college and am going to all the seminars read all the books, and, and so that stuff was working management leadership stuff was working, but I just thought you know what these people could do more, there’s a lot more here than they didn’t even realize. And so I started trying to figure out how can I get help them get to their potential and help the company get to its potential right. And so I started studying behavioral economics. So behavioral economics is kind of just taking some microeconomics and slamming some psychology together with it, and it really started in the 1970s where these two guys named Kahneman and Tversky, right, they’re the fathers of behavioral economics, they were in Hebrew University in Jerusalem. They were Psychologists actually, but they kind of said okay this micro-economic can really help people except for economics, it’s making these two wrong assumptions, and one is that we humans are perfectly rational. And we’re rational, but we’re not perfectly rational. And we don’t even want to be perfectly rational right.
Okay, and so the second assumption was that that was the future, and we can never predict the future. So, if you read like a classical economic textbook, it will say, this is path A and this is path B, and this is what makes the person choose between the two. But you don’t know what path A and path B is in the real world because, I mean, think about this. In 2019 Nobody knew COVID was going to happen in 2020 right. So we can’t predict the future.
Caleb Stevens: If you predicted that you got some kind of superpower that.
Lon Langston: Yeah, exactly. I mean, no boom or bust in the economy’s predictable, I mean, right So economists are always trying to, but they mostly get it wrong, right. Okay, so Kahneman and Tversky, just said hey if we put some psychology with this it could actually be helpful to people. Okay, so that’s behavioral economics. You combine macroeconomics, microeconomics, and psychology. Alright, so I started studying that, and then I realized that, okay, there’s this whole other component if you add a little bit of neurology to this, it really enhances it. And in fact what’s happened since then is that if you hear psychologists talk, a research psychologist talk.
They sound like a neurologist because they are talking about these chemicals and these normal pathways create these feelings and thoughts and behaviors and if you hear a neurologist talk. And I read a lot of stuff and follow a lot of stuff that Neurologists do also. They sound like psychologists now. Because they’re saying, these neurochemicals will cause these behaviors and, like, oh wow, so I said okay what’s the layer on some neurology on this too. And by the way, this all became possible in 1980 with functional magnetic resonance imaging, because before that, we really couldn’t see the brain working in real-time. But after that, then all these cool experiments have been done from 1980 Till now, where, where you can see what parts of the brain are activated. And when something is happening when the thought processes happening when feelings are corroding or whatever.
And so anyway, so you add on this neurology component. And then there’s another component which it’s useful to layer own and that’s physiology, how the body works because that affects everything right. I mean, how well your body works, it affects how you feel and the decisions you make, and what you’re able to do, but it also affects how well your brain works, because your brain needs the same things that your body needs. So, oxygen, hydration, nutrition, sleep, exercise your brain needs all those things too, so the layer on the physiology component. All right. And taken together, those things are all behavioral science. So I started applying these behavioral science things to the people who were working for me at that produce County. And I got really great results. Results, so good in fact that a few years later, four years after that. So, this was 2010. So about 2014, I was able to sell that company for 11 times even [inaudible08:42].
So that’s in an industry where five times even [inaudible 08:43] is normal. Okay, so one of the largest potato growers in the world bought my company, a little company here in Atlanta, and he didn’t buy it because I had some kind of proprietary technology or some kind of super cool facility or everything. In fact, he gutted all the facility and he put all new equipment in it. That wasn’t what he was buying. He was buying this cultural thing that was created by this behavioral science way of thinking, and then he hired me to be a consultant to his company. And so, I mean, two things happen there. I sold the production company because I wanted to do this, you know the behavioral science stuff full time. But also, they gave me proof that it works. Right. And so I started doing executive coaching from there. And, I mean, with obvious people who own produce businesses because I was in that industry. But also with trucking companies, law firms, and CPA firms and I had an HPHC contractor.
And then I got into working with water authorities, so all these individual water authorities are run like individual companies, even though they’re suited governmental, and so I get in with the general manager of one of these water authorities as his executive coach. And then he introduced me to all the other leaders of the other water authorities. And so I started working with leaders of water authorities all around the state. And so, more and more experience, more and more proof that all this stuff works. And so what would generally tend to happen was, I do executive coaching with a leader, and then he or she would say, Hey, this is good stuff. Can you also do some corporate training? And so, it leads to corporate training, you know, in a boardroom or a lecture hall with a bunch of other people. So, along the way, one of my executive coaching clients was a bank CEO, a community bank CEO, and it’s kind of the same pattern where I worked with him for a few months and then he said well you do some corporate training I said yeah, I’ll do corporate training.
And so that led to more and more and more and more with that bank. And then, at some point, he said, why don’t you come work here. Want to be our internal consultant. And I said no I do not want to work for anybody. But he talked me into it the way he talked me into it was by saying, Hey, I don’t want you to be a banker, I’ve got enough good bankers, I want you to continue to provide an external perspective. And I want you to make us more successful. So beyond that, you can do whatever you want. Right. Okay, well that sounds like a cool job description because I could do whatever I want but it’s actually really scary. When you have to deliver value, and there are no parameters, it’s scary. Okay, but what, what it yielded was I came up with all these experiences that help people become more engaged, which is where the engaged banker experience name came from. All these experiences help specifically community bank employees become more engaged in their work. And, so I’ve been applying the behavioral science stuff to other clients but more, but mostly to banks and mostly to community banks for the last five years.
Caleb Stevens: Well let’s kind of start at the ground floor when it comes to culture. There’s a number of ways that culture has been defined. I’ve heard Seth Godin say he defines it as people like us do things like this, I’ve heard culture define this, it’s just whatever you allow whether it’s fun, whether it’s cultured whatever you allow. How do you define culture and then we’ll kind of go from there.
Lon Langston: So, I like a one-word definition of culture, and of course you have to elaborate because one word is not going to capture it, but the one word is identity. So, the culture is the identity of the organization, right. So, the expansion of that is, but the identity of the organization is made up of the identity of every individual in the organization, and to a small organization can be based on the personality of the leader and they often are. But in order for an organization to scale past a certain size, it has to have more than just personality more than just the individual personality, and it becomes made up of the personality or the identity of several other people. And in fact, this is, it’s a little bit counterintuitive and a lot of times, leadership doesn’t even want to believe this, but it’s made up of the identity of every person in the organization. So a lot of times I’ll do, new hire orientation sessions for banks. And one thing I tell these new hires, so these people have been working there two weeks right they have no idea what’s going on,
Caleb Stevens: They’re brand new.
Lon Langston: Right, I say, you have more influence over the culture here than even people who’ve been here a very long time. For this reason, because you are the example of what we’re willing to hire, you are the example of where what we’re willing to do right now so you’re the barometer, so everybody in the organization said, Oh, so that’s who we’re willing to hire now, is this person moving us forward is this person pulling us up or is that going in the other direction. So, it’s just an example that even that person who’s been there two weeks and maybe, but you know maybe the lowest paid person in the organization, and maybe you know, 22 years old or whatever, they make, they are still influencing the culture, and in fact, everyone in the organization influences the culture. So my definition of culture, is it’s the identity of the organization but you have to consider that it’s made up of the identity of every single person in the organization.
Caleb Stevens: So, 2020. Last year was a huge shock to culture because we had to send everybody home for the most part maybe a few companies here and they were able to maintain an office environment, but for most of us working from home especially I think for bankers, was a totally new and scary challenge. I don’t know how many bankers before working from home, but I bet you a lot wasn’t and a lot of bank leaders, probably never crossed their mind to let, half their folks or their whole teamwork from home if they choose. How has COVID presented challenges to leaders when it comes to cultures, particularly for our community bank listeners, what are some of the main challenges you think they faced.
Lon Langston: Yeah so, I think you’re right killed that a lot of bank leaders had never even thought about a work from home culture.
Caleb Stevens: They said they probably laugh you out the door if you’d presented it to him a couple of years ago,
Lon Langston: Right, they would and then it got thrust upon them and they had to figure it outright. And so, I think, I mean the answer is, it probably has been challenging, and it may have affected performance at some organizations because it’s been challenging, but it also opened up a new way of thinking, you know, maybe by force but it opened up a new way of thinking in terms of, you know, measuring people’s contribution to the organization, not by the hours they’re sitting at a desk but by their performance. So, you know, the truth is that for every organization, not just community banks. It’s a tough thing to change your business model so dramatically from everybody being in the office 40 hours a week to everybody being out of the office. And so we really don’t know how it’s going to play outright, I mean, I mean, as we go back to normal, what’s normal going to be right. Is it going to be some kind of hybrid of you know, or is it going to go all the way back to everybody in the office, I doubt it.
Yeah, I think what we’re going to see is that even the most traditional thinkers in terms of leadership are going to realize that, oh, you know what, the 100% in the office, it is not necessarily something that we have to have, you know what else is going to happen too though, I think, is that the workers are going to say, we’re not going to do that right we’re going to work at the place that allows us more freedom. And I mean one of the things, everybody wants one of the innate human desires or needs is autonomy. And so that, so the challenge for leadership. The challenge for the community bank or any organization that needs to get a performance out of the individual is how to measure it, right.
Caleb Stevens: Yeah. And I don’t know if you would agree with this, but it seems like to be the companies who have handled this the best tend to be the ones where there’s a high degree of trust within the culture. In other words, if you go home and you’re working from home and I don’t see you, and we’re not checking in. Can I really trust that you’re working, or are you slacking off or, can I really trust you that you’re working from home if I can’t see you. So, if you would echo that, but it seems to me that the companies that have handled this the best have an environment where everyone trusts each other and they’re all accountable and they’ll have integrity. But there’s a high degree of trust, and that seems to be the companies have handled that the best from a cultural perspective.
Lon Langston: I think you’re 100% right about that, and probably the most important word in organizational culture is trust. And in fact, if there’s not trust you’re going to have a bad culture and if there’s a lot of trust, you’re going to have a great culture and, it’s a continuum most companies, most organizations most banks kind of fall in the middle somewhere. Trust is. It’s a huge thing. Okay, so the other part of it is communication. Right, and to each person, whether it’s the employee or the leader, they feel as if they don’t trust the other person, because of that communication gap. It’s not necessarily true that the other person is not being trustworthy, it’s just that they’re not communicators
Caleb Stevens: There’s no regular cadence or routine for keeping on the same page.
Lon Langston: Yeah, yeah, so crystal clear communication is super important crystal-clear communications essential to having a good culture.
Caleb Stevens: but Lon. We’re all bankers here we’re analytical, we want to quantify things can you really put an ROI on culture. Why invest in culture if you can’t measure it and that’s something you probably hear a lot as well as you’re working with folks, you know, for the community bank executives who are thinking through Well, this all sounds great but when I was coming up, I got a paycheck and did what I was told that was good enough for me. Why invest in culture in the first place, why does it matter?
Lon Langston: Okay so, it matters because you can pay people for time and you can pay people for tasks right so you can say be here this time leave at this time and in the middle, you do these tasks, but you can’t pay people for engagement you can’t buy engagement. So you can buy a quantity of work, but you can’t buy quality of work. And so that’s the difference right. Alright so if you want to just, you know. Do a quick ROI calculation, grab your phone and turn on the calculator and do this. Take the number of employees that work for your organization and multiply that by 25%. So 25% of your employees, and then multiply that by that by 100 so, if 25% of employees make a decision or take an action. That makes or saves your bank $100 a day. Right, okay, and now multiply that by 260. The number of workdays in a year.
Also, the number gets bigger. And I’m just talking 100 bucks. Right, it’s 25% of your employees make a decision, that changes the bank’s profitability makes or saves either way by 100 bucks that’s nothing. It becomes a big number. Okay, and the way they can do this is in customer interactions and vendor interactions, but you know what, almost as often it’s in coworker interactions. Right. So, if they create an environment. Each employee creates an environment in which other people feel safe and trusted then everybody is going to produce more, so the ROI is actually it can be measured in dollars, right even though it’s harder to capture. But think about this unless you’re, unless you’re really in a sales role, measuring productivity is always hard. So culture is not harder to measure than any other metric of productivity.
Caleb Stevens: So let’s drill down a little bit, you talk about culture, for the folks who are the boots on the ground. They’re not necessarily in a leadership position, what are some of the key things that science has said are some of the keys to a fulfilling and rewarding job. In other words, if I’m that 22 years old coming in for the first time, by and large, what are some trends what’s the science, and what they’re looking for in terms of fulfilling and rewarding job.
Lon Langston: Yeah, so, I mean I think about Ryan and AC self-determination theory, and then maybe a little bit of Martin Seligman as per model. And then you add on some of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and then take some maybe under Erickson’s research about high performance and then a little bit of me how to make highs work about that flow state. Alright so combine all that and I think what you get. And there’s a lot more. It’s a lot more complicated than that but I think what you get is a tension between autonomy and relatedness, or autonomy and belonging. All of those models say that we humans need autonomy, so we decide how we execute. We don’t necessarily have to create the vision or the strategy, but we need to be given some autonomy some leeway about how we execute our part
Caleb Stevens: This is something that I own that I take possibility for.
Lon Langston: Yeah, yeah, that’s huge. Right, okay. And then the other big thing is this relatedness or belongingness need. We all have that we all want to be part of a group, and it’s more than that actually. We all have this innate need to make a meaningful contribution to a group that we value. Okay, so every word in that sentence matters, it’s got to be a meaningful contribution to a group, that we value. Okay so those two things sometimes are in opposition to each other because we want to make autonomous and make our own decision, but we want to be a part of the group. Okay so it’s those two things are that motivate, no matter whether you’re, you know like a 16-year-old high school student, or you’re, you know, or you’re a 60-year-old CEO. You’re still motivated by those two things.
Caleb Stevens: Yeah, so as leaders and one of the implications there is we’re trying to think about investing in our culture mainly in the bank CEO who has my culture has been sort of, it’s happened by osmosis over the past 10 years. And I’ve never really intentionally invested in it. What are some practical first steps that you see leaders taking to invest in their cultures to create what you’re talking about, an environment where people feel like they’re being valued like their contribution is meaningful? That they have some autonomy over those things. What are some things as leaders we can be doing?
Lon Langston: So I think if you’re the leader you have to think well, I don’t want to put my trust in someone who is not going to perform. So you need to give people the tools they need to perform, and also the training they need, so tools and training are a big deal, right. You can’t just say sink or swim, it’s not fair to the employee and it’s not going to get you the results you want. So, tools and training are a big deal. And seek out really, I mean, the kind of the best training you can get for your employees, whether that’s technical skills or soft skills, I mean, so make sure that the employees get the most preparation that’s possible. And you know, the other thing is always going to be communicated in every organization, you get beyond three people, there’s going to be a communications issue right. And so I think part of a leader’s job is communicating, but they don’t realize how big a part it is.
And so if you’re the CEO of a bank, you may think that well communicating with the troops, you know, with my employees, my team, maybe 10% of my job. No, it’s 60% of your job, it’s 70% of your job. I tell CEO’s listen, this is the main thing you have to do is communicate right. Think about this
Caleb Stevens: and you may feel like you’re over-communicating, but you’re not, if anything you need to communicate more.
Lon Langston: Exactly. Right, so I can’t remember the attribution, but I heard somebody say, people really don’t hear what you say until you’re tired of hearing it yourself right. You’ve said so many times you can’t stand it anymore. That’s when they hear it. So I think we say okay, I said it once or I said it three times, they should get it by now, you know, they weren’t listening. Well, that’s true but not incumbent upon the listener to get it. It’s incumbent upon the deliverer of the message to make sure it’s getable for them. So, if you think about this.
The responsibility for the message being heard is yours as the person delivering the message is not the responsibility of the listeners to receive it. In truth, it’s the responsibility of both sides. But if you think in terms of your mind, that I have to deliver it in a way that it’s absolutely crystal clear so they can’t miss it, then you’re probably communicating well, otherwise, you’re probably missing the boat in terms of communication.
Caleb Stevens: Let me throw this leadership scenario at you because I feel like I’ve seen this before and I would have done a survey on this I don’t have any data to say hey this is something that’s an issue, but I just have this hunch and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. It seems to me like oftentimes the top-performing salespeople who tend to get promoted because they’re the highest performing folks in the organization, the highest performing salespeople don’t necessarily many times they do but don’t necessarily make the best sales leaders or managers. Sometimes maybe they make tier sales performers would make outstanding fantastic sales leader or manager. If you’re a high performer and aren’t selling something, but then you get promoted role to leadership and you’ve never led anybody before.
So how in the world are you equipped out in the world at your prior job equip you for this current job, any thoughts for executives on that as they think about hiring or promoting somebody maybe their company is growing, maybe they’ve done M&A transaction, they’ve got a whole group of middle managers to kind of think through, any thoughts on how to identify those leaders, and not necessarily just focus on well he or she is the top sales producer so clearly, they’re going to get promoted. Any thoughts on that because I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with.
Lon Langston: Sure. And it’s since the beginning of time the person who performs the best gets promoted to being the leader and but it’s two different things. Right, is a different skill set than being the manager and the leader. And so we need to think about it as two different skill sets. Some people can do both, and a lot of people might do both, but they can’t do both without being equipped, as you said without the training, but also some people just aren’t even meant to do one or the other right they were there. What’s more, it fits more their innate talents, gifts abilities proclivities their personality. If it’s maybe their vision and values for themselves to one or the other. And so I think we need to be really aware of that. And realize that that there. There are two different jobs, and you don’t necessarily even want the high producer to the leader of the producers, right, because he or she is probably not going to get the most out of the other people.
If you think about a sports analogy a lot of times, the players that become managers of baseball or coaches in football, weren’t the stars players. Yeah, that’s right. Okay, but the star players don’t. And this is true with salespeople this is true with every job. The star players don’t necessarily know how they do it, they haven’t deconstructed it well enough to understand how they do it. If they want to go through that process of deconstructing, then they can understand it, but most of the time they don’t. Okay. If you don’t understand how it’s done, you know, if you don’t understand what components contribute to your success it’s impossible to teach it.
You will just say, be more like me, and the other person is like I can’t be more like you. So I think the person who understands how it’s built. Can teach and be a better leader than the person who’s. I’m going to use the word Naturally. Although it’s not natural. But the person who is naturally successful at it.
Caleb Stevens: Yeah, it makes me think of it, don’t quote me on it but I believe Nick Saven was a defensive back for a couple of years at a small school and that’s about as far as he made it personally as an athlete. But then you’ve seen, you know, he’s probably the greatest of all time at this point at least in college in terms of coaching, and your right it doesn’t necessarily translate and some superstars would not make the best coaches, sometimes I guess you have folks who are gifted with both, but I just think that’s interesting is a kind of gets into the importance of self-awareness, not just for yourself but then understanding your team. I don’t know if you have seen any of your banks kind of get into personality assessments or understanding their team and self-awareness, any thoughts on that as far as how we can make sure we really understand. Okay, I’ve got this team I want to know what their gifts are what makes them tick, how we can get them in the right seat on the bus. Any thoughts on that for leaders, how do you make sure you know your team well.
Lon Langston: Yes, well first you have to be intentional about it you have to put resources into it, and I don’t just mean money I’m talking about time, and you have to spend time on this, and you have to broadcast to the employees that this is a valuable thing. Okay, so I like to look at a person’s identity as a five-circle model. And the first circle is what they’re born with, you know, if you have, if you’re a parent, you have more than one kid you know that they come preloaded with software because you know you’re going to have two kids, their same parent and the same parenting yet the kids are completely different. So, those things that we’re, you know, we come innately with. So, there are certain skills, talents, abilities proclivities, and shortcomings that everybody has, like, I am never going to be a rock and roll star I do not have the musical ability to do that right.
And then the next circle is the personality which you alluded to. And you know what I say about personality is take all the personality assessments right so, you know, Myers Briggs is this tried and true one in business. But take them all I mean Enneagram is kind of the new thing. Disc Profile strengths finders all take them all. Because each one of those provides you data points so you understand yourself better, right, and I don’t think any one of them is perfect and none of them is going to tell you exactly who you are but each one of them will give you indications. Now, there’s a little bit of a conflict in the science about this. So, most of the personality assessments, create a type, you know, I’m an INTP in Myers Briggs, right, and I’m a high D and DISC profile and I’m a five in Enneagram. Those are types right and so, okay, you’re this type and these types, act in this way, but actually, the behavioral sciences say type indicators are not really the best way to think about personality, the best way to think about it is with these five dimensions of personality, and each person exists on the dimensions.
Now each person exists on a continuum within the dimension. So, I mean introversion extroversion is one that everybody’s heard of. So, very few people are 100% Either way, but everybody’s kind of in the middle, but understanding where you are on that continuum super important. And so I like to give people this, tool and say, Okay, you tell me where you fall on each of these five dimensions, and then we’ll do an assessment, and we’ll compare, and then look at the gaps. Right, and so a lot of people understand, okay on these three dimensions they hit it exactly they know where they are, but on these other two, they said, oh wait a minute. Okay, so that’s the difference between who you think you are and who other people, see you as, and that’s really important in the organizational culture and it’s really important for your personal career, to understand how other people perceive you. Right.
And I’ll give you a personal example, so I don’t know anybody else under the bus, my personal example is this. That I score very low on agreeableness, which means I offend people, because I’m super direct, right, and I’m going to tell it like it is person, right, but people can’t take it. No, but it offends people, so I have to realize, I have to dial that back intentionally, and it’s continual too.
Caleb Stevens: Yeah, but the opposite is if you go along with everything and have no backbone no spine, or not direct you avoid conflict at all costs. That’s going to get you into some trouble too I would think.
Lon Langston: Well, it’s going to get you into nowhere. Alright man, you’re never going to progress. Yeah, so. So understanding where you are. And so then you can do this thing, it’s called acting out of typing but that we’re talking about not having a type, but it’s called that you have a type which means that you can choose to be more extroverted. If you need to be in certain situations you can choose to be more agreeable if you need to be in certain situations.
Or what if you’re really like a super nice person and you hate conflict, and yet you’re a manager, and you have to deliver some difficult, you know, feedback to an employee, then you need to act out of type and be less agreeable. Right. And so, anyway, knowing these things about yourself gives you the opportunity to make adjustments in situations, right, and, you don’t have to change who you are, it’s not about changing who you are, but it’s about, it’s about optimizing what’s necessary to make a situation, work out in the best way possible for everybody, including your organization.
Caleb Stevens: Yeah, I think, going back to the introvert-extrovert concept I think it’s Adam Grant at Wharton who was talking about a study that he did where he said you would think in sales, the extroverts will win hands down at sales performance and they ran this study and they said, actually the data doesn’t necessarily bear out that extroverts are more effective salespeople. But at the same time, if you’re a straight introvert and you do not want any social interaction at all. That’s always not going to bode well for sales, he said it’s the ambiverts it’s the people who know kind of how to balance both good listeners, they’re not necessarily Yik Yak in the whole time, but at the same time they have some courage they have some assertiveness, they can be direct, so it kind of gets back to what you were saying, understanding where you sort of fall into that spectrum and then understanding, okay what does that mean for my current job, and my in the current job, if I want to be in this current job where do I need to grow where do I need to change, right.
Lon Langston: Yes 100% And I love Adam Grant and I follow his stuff. And he has a podcast called work life, you know he’s an industrial psychologist at Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania, he’s great. And so I think this idea that I’m stuck being who I am, and I can’t be anybody different is something that is very restrictive and it’s not necessary, because we, each can do one thing. So, personalities are not fixed, by the way, they’re very doable, but they’re not fixed, so your personality can change over time and it does change over time based on your experience and your knowledge and yourself awareness.
So, but I’m not at all saying if you’re introverted, you need to learn to be an extrovert No-no-no. But, understanding what you’re, what your different dimensions are, what your different personality components are can help you just understand how to apply them most effectively to each situation. And you know you alluded to something Caleb that I think’s very important, and that is, think about who you want to be right, not just who you are now who you want to be who you can become. And so psychologists call it your best possible self. And I like to tell people, everything is not possible. So, you know, if you scroll through social media, you see all this stuff about oh if you believe that you can be it. No, that is not true. Everything is not possible. But what is possible for each person is enough. And what I mean by enough is, enough to get the things we really need, which are satisfaction and fulfillment and achievement by the way this isn’t, you know, what you can become is enough, but you’re not there yet. I mean, I will say categorically that nobody has reached their potential.
And so, I don’t care if you’re 80, years old, still haven’t reached your potential, because if you ever reach what was your potential new potential becomes available to you so, think in terms of who you want to become, and, by the way, one of the strongest drivers, one of the strongest motivators of people is a role model, right so if you can say okay, I can see this other person who is kind of like me, they have to be there has to be a connection point, right, if I can see this other person who’s like me, I can navigate to that. Right. And so, the classic example is Andrew Jones came from this little the Atlanta Braves player came from this little island country called Curacao, right Curacao has more MLB players more major league players than any other country in the world per capita, including the United States, okay it’s this tiny little country it’s got like 150,000 people, that’s it.
Okay, Curacao became a major league baseball powerhouse, because Andrew Jones hit two home runs and his first World Series playing for the Atlanta Braves, 96 Right, and every little kid in Curacao saw that and every little kid said, he’s like me. He’s from the same place he talks like me, hey, I could be him right and that was enough right so that became the role model and. And another example is on the LPGA Tour, you might have noticed that the large contingent of South Korean women, right. Well, that’s because Siri Pat came over here from South Korea, a couple of decades ago, and won a bunch of events, and every girl in South Korea said, I could be that. Okay, so role models are incredibly powerful. All right now tie this back to best possible self and that is, if you can imagine, that seems like a soft word, if you can craft your best possible self, and understand what that would be right and you’re not going to know exactly but understand what components would go into your best possible self and what you would even want to be, you become your own role model, your best possible self becomes your role model.
Caleb Stevens: And to tie it back to culture to if for leaders if we can craft a culture where we know our team’s strengths, we know what their dreams are, what their vision for their future goals are, then we can say hey we want this organization to help you get there, and I’m just thinking personally if my leader knows what my ultimate aspirations are and he or she says, Caleb, I want to help you get there. Gosh, I’m going to follow that person through a brick wall and then let’s go I’m going to be on board, or you may say, maybe this place isn’t where I need to be long term for my development, and I would think to tie it back to culture. If the leaders took that mentality of, we’re committed to the bottom line we’re committed to results, but we’re also committed to helping our people grow and develop and get where they want to go, I would think from a trust standpoint, that’s going to heighten and elevate the performance of the organization as well.
Lon Langston: Well, first of all, I appreciate you pulling me back to the topic because I became completely on board with the fact, we were talking about
Caleb Stevens: This is good were going down some fun rabbit holes. This is great.
Lon Langston: But I would say you, juxtapose the performance of the organization with helping individuals, and I don’t think that there’s a separate, you said but I think it’s and right I think those two things go together. If you want a high-performing organization, you need to develop the individuals and help them understand that. Because think about this, what if every one of your lenders was as good as your best lender. Holy cow. What if every one of your branch managers was good as your best branch managers.
Caleb Stevens: That’s music to the ears of our listeners right,
Lon Langston: right. And then, and then that person who’s the best, they were even that much better. Right. That’s what can happen if you really focus on this stuff. So when we talk about culture, we think it’s this culmination of all these people right this kind of this mass, you can’t really tell the difference in each individual, but it’s not, it’s made up of every single individual. So, if you can find a way to put a focus on each individual’s development the organization will thrive.
Caleb Stevens: well if folks want to get in touch with you Lon for listening who are saying man my culture, we need some help we need some coaching we need some advice we need to elevate the engagement of our culture. Maybe or cultures could be defined with the word unengaged or unremarkable how could they get in touch with you and connect with you.
Lon Langston: OK so the simplest way is just to email me at Lon Langston at engaged banker experience dot com. And also follow me on LinkedIn I’m very active on LinkedIn. I’m posting stuff there every day. In fact, you can get a bunch of free content. Just follow me on LinkedIn.
Caleb Stevens: That’s right
Lon Langston: Those are the best ways.
Caleb Stevens: Good. We appreciate Lon this has been a really rich discussion. I felt like we could keep doing this for 3 hours but unfortunately, we are limited by our time. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. And we will be looking forward to catching you soon on LinkedIn.
Lon Langston: Thank you very much, Caleb.
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