Culture Is a Reflection of How We Lead

Raiffeisen Bank - SkyTower Romania
Raiffeisen Bank headquarters

At the beginning of June, I got an email about delivering a keynote on Friday, June 28…in Romania. I was due for a little adventure, and after one Skype call and a little schedule maneuvering, I was booked.

I was looking forward to spending time with top executives from the most profitable bank in Romania. Raiffeisen has 540 outlets throughout Romania that service approximately 2 million customers. I did my research on the company, but really had no idea what to expect.

The night before my keynote, I had dinner with the management board of Raiffeisen Bank.

This highly-skilled management team has successfully navigated a challenging European financial market. The team is largely focused on one central theme to drive business performance and growth into the future: culture.

Raiffeisen Bank President and CEO Steven van Gronigen led us through a thoughtful discussion about the delicate balance between focusing on profitable growth and providing a world-class work experience. The central theme: the company can’t sustain one without the other in the new economy. We discussed the leadership challenges: providing meaningful work, helping employees grow professionally, creating career mobility, ensuring competitive compensation and high levels of employee engagement, and ultimately delivering remarkable customer experiences.

Our dinner conversation closed with a commitment from everyone at the table to make their organization a better place to work. This commitment from the company’s leaders cemented the central theme for the next morning’s keynote message:

Culture is a reflection of how you lead.

The next day, I led the company’s top 100 executives in a conversation about culture. Based on our dinner discussion the evening prior, I encouraged all of the company’s executives to embrace the commitment to make the company a better place to work.

Profitable growth alone is not good enough for this team. Instead, they run their business based on two important goals:

  • They aspire to enrich the lives of their employees and the customers they serve.

  • They want to impact their communities in a meaningful way and ultimately leave a legacy.

Raiffessen Bank is already well on their way to accomplishing these goals. The company has been successful because they understand:

The people are the brand.

The company’s new HQ reinforces this idea. It’s located inside the brand new SkyTower, the tallest building in Romania.  As I toured their new office and had the opportunity to meet with employees, it was pointed out to me that something was notably absent in their new design: offices.   The open design is intended to fuel more collaboration and connectedness across all employee levels in the organization.

The company’s philosophy is that cultivating a more open, connected, transparent culture will help employees deliver the brand experience – and it’s working.

This trip was eye-opening and refreshing for me. I experienced a leadership team championing innovation and change halfway around the world. Their success reinforced core principles that ring true in any developed country where I’ve worked: The people are the brand.  Culture is a reflection of how we lead.

Download our new white paper on leadership and culture.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

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