Image Polishing Needed

Last week several Indiana Bankers Association staff members attended the annual convention of the Indiana Society of Association Executives (ISAE). ISAE is the association in Indiana that represents association staff officers. Yes, there is an association for everything! At the convention, attendees learned about trends occurring in the association business, while sharing concerns and successes. Several speakers challenged us to think creatively and to question the hidden rules of running trade associations that serve diverse memberships. Just as IBA bankers find value in meeting with peers at our convening events, it also is helpful for IBA staff to visit occasionally with other association professionals about the issues they are facing and to determine how we stack up comparatively. I am proud to report that the IBA team is among the very best in the state, and I suspect the country. Most of the issues covered at the convention were ones we have already tackled. Others were ideas we have already considered and determined are not the right fit for IBA.

One topic covered was data tracking and measuring member involvement. More than a decade ago, IBA instituted its Five Star Member program, and we have been reviewing and enhancing it continually since then. Of all of the solutions that other associations shared to accomplish the goal of tracking and measuring member engagement, none held up to the IBA Five Star program. We use it to assemble data about each member institution in those areas that are of the most importance to bankers and industry advocacy. We also use it to measure the success of each member engaging with IBA, as well as the success of IBA staff to improve that level of engagement for each member. Five Star is a powerful tool, for both the IBA and each member bank.

Another topic dealt with developing a set of comparative statistics and looking at trend lines over several years to determine progress of the organization. This comparison also can be used to measure against similar organizations across the country or within Indiana. Again, this is an area in which IBA has been excelling for many years. The IBA management team uses these comparisons to improve our performance in serving our membership. It is a point of pride that Indiana consistently ranks among the top state bank trade associations in the country by every measurement tracked.

One speaker at the convention discussed how to lead with humanity by crafting a culture of high emotional intelligence – lead with empathy, hone listening skills, sharpen self-awareness and strengthen self control. Overall it was a worthy presentation, with emphasis on the traits of a servant-leader, a style which the IBA embraces, as do many of our member banks. The speaker wove in examples of concepts in action and did a good job, right up until he relayed the story of a friend of his who had quit his job at a large bank, because the bank cared only about the “deal,” not about the people affected by it. Worse, the speaker presumed that everyone in the audience saw banks as bad. Afterward I visited with him at length and explained there are bad actors in every profession, but that the bankers I know are the most empathetic people I have ever met. Our bankers are more concerned about their communities and the local economy than about how much money they will make off of the next deal. I assured him that his negative view of bankers was inaccurate, to which he confessed that he had lived in large cities all of his life and had not experienced what he perceived was a small town phenomenon.

I understand his taking a shot at bankers. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. The important lesson here is that we in the banking business still have a lot of work to do to regain our image of high integrity and honesty. It will require all of us to do an even better job of telling our story. If you need help, visit

– S. Joe DeHaven

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