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Banking in the age of uncertainty: how can human leaders make a difference?

By Richard Nicholson

In the ever-changing world of banking, leaders have a crucial role to play. By prioritising their teams and fostering a people-first culture, they can drive productivity and help navigate uncertainty. But can it really be that easy?

We all know the challenges faced by leaders are plentiful: reducing costs, preparing for long-term volatility as well as responding to the cost-of-living crisis. Amidst all this disruption, real people who work in the financial sector have become ever more critical. Creating a high-performing ‘human’ culture that embraces innovation and agility is key to success. To achieve this, leaders must exhibit high emotional intelligence and align with the four pillars of Human Leadership: being authentic, inclusive, a good role model and connect colleagues across the organisation.

For leaders, the need to support and inspire their teams, whilst balancing their own mental and physical health, is essential.

In the financial services and banking sectors, leaders are working closely with one another to prepare their institutions for potential recessionary challenges, a transformed competitive marketplace, and improving their firms’ ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) performance. These complex agendas unfold in an economically uncertain world, as highlighted by the IMF’s World Uncertainty Index. In this environment, providing stability, answers and clarity to the people involved in these transformation agendas is, to say the least, a challenging task. Failures in transformation can have far-reaching consequences.

Additionally, the cost-of-living crisis has heightened the need for streamlined costs for all organisations, whilst banks also face increased pressure to provide exceptional customer service. Their customers still desire a human touch, they want to speak to a human being rather than a bot, which is made even harder by the number of branch closures in recent times.

So, ultimately, it’s about the people. And, as long as people are prioritised, it can be done… but leaders need to adapt. They have to be more ‘human’ – communicating clearly so everyone is aligned, valuing everyone’s unique human strengths so people are motivated to perform. Then teams become powerful. By creating a culture that supports and empowers their people, leaders can drive productivity, manage change effectively, and lead their banks towards a more successful future. And the research backs that up: organisations that prioritise their people during transformations are 2.6 times more likely to succeed (Forbes, 2022).

Given the success and importance of implementing human leadership, what’s the cost of not keeping our human ‘switched on’ during times of uncertainty?

Find out more about Human Leadership or contact Richard for a chat –