Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

What Makes a Good Chairman?

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

What Makes a Good Chairman?

Article excerpt

Having been privileged to introduce incoming ABA chairmen--and one chairwoman--in these pages for 27 of the past 29 years (two were ably handled by my colleague, Steve Cocheo), the best chairs, in my estimation, have been people who realized that the position is not about them. It is about the industry. Most come into the position with certain things they hope to achieve, but also with the recognition that the advancement of the industry is a process, not a goal.

Certainly outgoing chairman Jeff Plagge has worked tirelessly on behalf of the industry, as he has throughout his career. The incoming chairman, John Ikard, will, I believe, do the same in his own way.

In the article about him beginning on page 28, Ikard uses the word "steward" to describe his role as ABA chairman, and also to describe his position at FirstBank Holding Co., where he is CEO.

"Steward" is not a word your hear often anymore. It is too nuanced for the digital blats that comprise much of today's communications. It is a very descriptive word, however, and one that does not imply passivity. Stewardship is quite active, as the parable of the Good Steward teaches.

A steward doesn't simply try to maintain what he has stewardship over, even if it is in good condition. He seeks to improve it further--to leave it better than what it was--while at the same time respecting the work of those who came before.

Ikard has met those criteria at Colorado-based FirstBank. The bank was already very profitable and growing rapidly when he took the reins in 1999, but he improved on that quite dramatically. …

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