Magazine article American Banker

Umpqua Leader's Book Shares Tips on Being 'Cool'

Magazine article American Banker

Umpqua Leader's Book Shares Tips on Being 'Cool'

Article excerpt

Umpqua Holdings Corp.'s chief executive, Raymond P. Davis, has always considered himself a retailer and a marketer, not a banker.

The Portland, Ore., company's branches are called "stores," and at any given time a customer can grab a coffee, surf the Internet, and even download music there.

This approach to banking has earned Mr. Davis a reputation as an innovator. Other banking companies often have sought him out for advice on retail strategies, and he frequently speaks at industry conferences.

Now bankers - or executives in any industry - can get advice from Mr. Davis by going to their local bookstore and buying his new book, "Leading for Growth: How Umpqua Bank Got Cool and Created a Culture of Greatness."

In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Davis said the book describes how business leaders can create distinct cultures to distinguish themselves from competitors. The main thing a leader needs to remember is to communicate personally - and continuously - to employees where the company should be headed and then show them the way, he said.

"The challenge of leaders is to take the motion picture that's running in their head and articulate it the best way they can to the staff," Mr. Davis said. "The individual who is leading has also got to have the self-discipline to be the catalyst that pushes staff up the hill."

In his book, Mr. Davis wrote that he learned this lesson from an employee "really far down in the chain of command" who scolded him in an e-mail for not following his mantra to measure the effects of new initiatives. The e-mail said Mr. Davis had not personally visited her branch to review its own measurements and, hence, was not properly holding branch employees accountable.

But communication needs to flow both ways, Mr. Davis wrote. Now he holds focus groups with employees on the "front lines" - without their managers - to learn their perspective on ways the company can improve. …

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