October 6, 2021 12:15 pm

James W. BruceColleagues, fellow professionals, and friends,

“Leadership is everyone’s business. Leadership is not about a position or a place. It’s an attitude and a sense of responsibility for making a difference. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be in a leadership role now, you may find yourself in one soon.”

– J. M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, from their book, Encouraging the Heart.1

Every organization needs leadership, and it needs it in every sphere of the organization’s operations. Hence the reason we need to inculcate a spirit of leadership through the company, because Kouzes and Posner were right, “Leadership is everyone’s business.” In recent months I have seen (and gratefully so) how important it is that “an attitude and sense of responsibility for making a difference” permeates throughout American Bank Systems.

My father’s vintage watch not only looks great on the outside, but it also keeps superior time because all the interconnected parts of the movement work together. There are no unimportant parts. Each has a function within the movement. One part turns another part, which turns another part…and so on until the second, minute and hour hands move to tell the time. Looking on the outside, you cannot appreciate all the activity going on behind the dial. So it is with organizations, with this difference: watch movements move mechanically without need of leadership, vision, or encouragement, while organizations need all of that and more.

Organizations only run as well as the people within them run, and people are not mechanical. That is where leadership comes in.  Given all of the events of the past year affecting people and businesses, I was struck by the thought that people need hope. Here is an excerpt from Encouraging the Heart on precisely that point:

Encouraging the Heart is ultimately about keeping hope alive. Leaders keep hope alive when they set high standards and genuinely express optimism about an individual’s capacity to achieve them. They keep hope alive when they give feedback and publicly recognize a job well done. They keep hope alive when they give their constituents the internal support that all human beings need to feel that they and their work are important and have meaning. They keep hope alive when they train and coach people to exceed their current capacities. Most important, leaders keep hope alive when they set an example. There really is nothing more encouraging than to see our leaders practice what they preach.

Want to make a difference in your organization? Help keep hope alive. It’s everyone’s business as, indeed, leadership is everyone’s business.




James W. Bruce, III

President/CEO and General Counsel

American Bank Systems


1James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Encouraging the heart: a leader’s guide to rewarding and encouraging others. Jossey-Bass Publishers. San Francisco. 1998.