Sculpting the Future

Please note, the names of businesses and people have been intentionally omitted to preserve the anonymity of all parties.

Recently, I was on a two-day video shoot for one of our clients… a respected regional bank. Our team was capturing interviews of several 30- and 40-something-year-old employees who had completed the bank’s leadership development training program. Listening to the stories of these young executives left me stunned by the contrast between my experience as a young professional and theirs.

To appreciate why I found their stories compelling, I need to share a little bit about my early career. Right out of college, I took a job at a large furniture company as a production artist in their in-house advertising department. From day one, I made it my job to learn everything I could about their business. Within 4 years, I had worked my way up to the company’s advertising director. There was never any formal training. No mentoring by older company executives. No clear path to succeed… just more and more responsibility with the unspoken expectation that I would swim, sink or get out of the pool.

With that as my reference point, I was amazed by what those young banking professionals shared.

Early in their careers, the bank’s management recognized them for their drive, their eagerness to learn and their commitment to member service. The bank identified each person’s potential and handpicked them to be a part of their leadership development program.

As part of the program, they were allowed to work in various departments to give them a well-rounded knowledge of the banking business. They were given direct access to the bank’s top executives… including leadership dinners where they developed meaningful relationships with management and their peers. No detail in their professional development was overlooked. They were even schooled on how to dress for success.

The bank is ensuring its enduring success and member-focused culture by proactively molding and shaping its next generation of leaders. Many of the young professionals we interviewed already have vice president or senior vice president in their titles. They know in their hearts that they are valued by the bank and view their positions as lifelong careers.

What a stark contrast, eh?

Whether you own a bank, auto dealership or furniture company, the only way to ensure a company’s longevity is to invest in young talent with the goal of shaping them into the next generation of leaders. Look around… every company – including yours – has bright, hardworking young people that would jump at the opportunity to excel.

The question is, are you expecting them to figure it out under fire or are you taking the time to sculpt them into the future of your company? I hope it’s the latter of the two.


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