Vol. 108 2024 Issue 4 (July/August)

Leading Amid Change

Rebeca Romero Rainey

The mere mention of change can send pulses racing and blood pressure rising. But while change can be hard, it’s unavoidable, and it’s only going to continue to accelerate in our evolving marketplace.

To address it, we have rooted ourselves in strategy, which ensures that each time we consider a new product, policy or procedure, we explore the reason behind it. Why do we need this change? Why is this shift necessary?

Consistently reminding ourselves of why we are transforming helps us remain successful in navigating the next steps. That constant focus on the reasoning behind the action ensures we continue on the right path.

As leaders, we must be ever confident in that journey. Whether we are deploying a new digital solution, introducing process efficiencies that shift staff dynamics, realigning departments within our banks or considering a host of other possible developments, we must start with a clear focus on customer and employee impact to drive the next steps and convey certainty in our decisions.

In addition, we must lead with full transparency. We need our teams and customers to trust this new direction but, even more, to trust us as leaders to guide it. By sharing what we know to be true, we build faith in our leadership. We will bring our teams and customers along with us, supporting them not just in the theory of change but in navigating the logistics of that shift.

Lessons in change management reiterate that to be successful, leaders must work beyond the change itself, addressing the emotions associated with it. To some community bank customers and employees, change may feel insurmountable – something to be avoided, as opposed to embraced – and we need to keep that perspective in mind as we take steps toward the future of our banks.

So, in a landscape where change is the norm, rest assured that ICBA remains a steadfast partner in helping you formulate your next steps. We’re here to help, whether it’s through our advocacy efforts in supporting smart, effective change; our trainings that help your teams expand their knowledge; or our innovation efforts that identify new potential partners and solutions.

Your peers can also be a tremendous resource, and we encourage you to connect with one another in our online ICBA Community.

By working together, we can normalize change, ensuring that as we collectively grow, evolve and adapt as community banks, we continue to flourish. Because, when done right, the only four-letter word that change evokes is “lead,” and leaders we will continue to be.

Rebeca Romero Rainey, president and CEO of ICBA, is one of the nation’s foremost advocates of the community banking industry, with a focus on regulatory reform for our country’s nearly 5,000 community banks. A third-generation community banker, she is the former chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, N.M.

Email Rebeca at

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