Joe Fazio, ICBA Community Banker of the Year 2017, is chairman and CEO of Commerce State Bank in West Bend, Wis.
Joe Fazio: Your job title matters. Use it to help others
It’s natural that people like to be around important people. The power and prestige rubs off on or transfers to others. When it comes to business, clients like to deal with the owner or the CEO. It makes them feel special.
While I am the cofounder and CEO of a community bank, I’m just a guy on the ground, no different than anyone else—not more important, smarter or more sophisticated. The point is that the perception a job title conveys is more important than you may realize. Others think that being a CEO makes me important, and that is why we need to make time for them. We all have multiple priorities with families, jobs, companies, investments, travel, hobbies, friends and more. Look at what you spend your time doing, and it will tell you what is most important to you.
You have the opportunity to make others feel important, too. How? By interacting with people who do not typically have access to you. As a community bank executive—particularly a CEO or president—people view you as a mover and shaker. They want to hear your story, and they dearly want to meet you. It makes their day.
We all have an ego. However, your ego is not important; their ego is. Why? Leaders seldom get to see the effect they have on others when they reach out to introduce themselves. When they take the time to do this, a trail of energy, excitement and pixie dust follows. People tell their friends, coworkers and their spouse about the important person they met. It feels good to them. It feeds their ego. It isn’t how important you are; it’s how important you make them feel by taking a little time to make them feel special. When someone in a leadership role recognizes others, it has a positive effect on them.
Do you remember meeting people earlier in your life that you thought were important? Did you tell others about it? Of course, you did. I’ll bet you do the same today. I know I do. It happened to me just a few weeks ago, and you bet I told others about it.
Important people don’t necessarily have to be movie stars, athletes or historic figures. There are heroes among us, and to someone, you are likely one, too. It could be an employee, a college student, a client, a competitor or a business owner who may be just dying to meet you. All you have to do is make yourself available to them. It’s easy. You will find them in seminars, classrooms and just about every other public setting.
The key is you need to put yourself out there. Go to events at your local university, participate in leadership development groups or be a speaker for a nonprofit or another group. You will find you enjoy it, and a side benefit is that while you are giving others a boost, it will make you feel pretty good.