Standard Bank Managers Makes A Difference.

Published: 25th March 2008
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Standard Bank Managers Makes A Difference.

Gaining confidence in businesses is a difficult as the fight between David and Goliath in the christian Bible. To most inhibitant in communities where large corporates exist they believe that these large institutions are only expliots and not interested in the citizens and residents or small scale entreprenuers. The story became different when Standard Bank Group Managers made a great difference in Alexandra in South Africa.

The bank leaders showed that they had no reason to discriminate between any two or more communities. Be it Alex or Sandton, Pretoria or Soweto all are considered as vital to the existence of the bank. One manager interviewed said: "All communities are the reason for the bank's existence." It became clear from their actions that that leading was different from managing.

Leaders have a vision of what the company could be - its ethos, brand image and place in the market; they set the direction, steer a course and inspire others to share the belief. Managers on the other hand help realise the vision, directing staff and operations; they measure and control resources as well as establishing plans, rules and timescales. Of course, managers encourage and motivate too, and some people can both manage and lead.

Some say leaders are born; that the ability to inspire others to follow is innate. But what are the qualities of a good leader and what can they teach us? Over 150 senior managers and leaders of Standard Bank showed the difference.

Leadership styles differ and are subject to what's in vogue, from the outmoded command-and-control approach to the currently popular consensus. Whatever the style, good leaders are confident and assertive yet have the flexibility to bring different qualities to bear, depending on circumstances.

Good leaders are usually good coaches too, offering guidance, constructive criticism, providing positive energy and encouragement. Standard Bank Leaders showed the way in Alex in South Africa over the past two weeks. The people of Alex mentioned to these great leaders of the bank that they will go the extra mile for those they respect, and Standard Bank has showed them that they care.

An entrepreneur in Alex who was inspired by the actions of the Standard Bank Group Leaders who visited him in his space had this commendation to share. The best leaders have integrity and tolerance and can accommodate different opinions. He was highly inspired and felt the world is all his when over 10 managers visited him to share in his experience.

As part of the Community and Social Relevance objective of the bank, over 4000 managers drawn from all over Africa were tasked to think new and innovative ways to make the community a part of the bank's activities. In their quest for achieving this constructive objective a group of over 150 managers within 2 weeks tasked themselves to visit some communities in South Africa. The top area that came immediately to mind was Alexandra. A community originally built for 70000 inhabitants. Today the township has over 750000 populations.

The top leaders who visited these townships in Alex really showed a class to the community as a whole.

Firstly, they considered the community as the only source of existence of the bank. According to some managers interviewed in the process, they saw the community as the only lifeline of their business existence. One manager said, "If the people of Alexandra are left out of the business of banking, I do not know what the future of Standard Bank will be in SA." Another senior manager said: "Extinguish Alexandra and Sandton just as any other communities in SA and extinguish Standard Bank." They walked the length and breath of between 5-10km square township interacting with the inhabitants, entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. They sat with the people, shared in their experiences, gave practical guidance and suggestions that will make the community move from good to great.

They communicated clearly what they want to achieve in these communities in SA and ensured all managers knew what's expected of them. They formed positive networks with the leaders of the community and promised a continual collaboration and network. One business owner in Alex asked the leaders who visited what was the motivation of the bank to be a part of their success. He felt so elated to find such people in the bank who are often perceived as busy and not interested in the ordinary people of the community but rather on the business gurus to be present in his space.

After all their interactions it became clear to all these managers that it does not matter the type of team you are managing. It could be the Sandton team or the Alex team. What is most important of to understand the paradigms of all these groups. Understand their needs, appreciate their concerns and deliver their demands. Be prepared to take risks and make mistakes. Don't be ashamed of being wrong; learn from their experience and move on with them.

Standard Bank Group as was revealed had great passion to see the society transformed. They created some excitement and energy which was highly infectious and inspirational.

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