February 25, 2023 / VOLUME NO. 250

Start With Humility

What separates a productive, collegial board from a poisonous, weak one?

That’s a simple question with a relatively complicated answer, but I think it starts with an uncommon trait: humility.

Jackson McConnell Jr. is CEO and chair of $2 billion Pinnacle Financial Corp., headquartered in Elberton, Georgia. He’s a third-generation banker; his family has held a controlling interest in the Northeast Georgia bank since the 1940s. McConnell’s just 56, and he has no plans to retire anytime soon — but he wants to ensure that his bank can choose to remain independent long after he’s left. That’s led him to concentrate on developing the bank’s next generation of leaders and ensuring it has an active, engaged board. And he’s intentional about the bank he wants to create. That sense of purpose has attracted board members like Bill McDermott, a business coach and former banker who worked with McConnell early in his career.

When McDermott joined the board as a director six years ago, McConnell gave him a book to read — Tommy Spalding’s “The Heart Led Leader.” That spoke volumes about Pinnacle’s culture, McDermott says.

“The premise of the book is that leaders that are heart-led lead from a place of humility, vulnerability, transparency, empathy and love,” he says. “One of the things that makes Pinnacle [special] is they have a very good idea of [the] type of culture that they want to create. And that really flows from Jackson all the way down throughout the organization.”

McDermott describes Pinnacle’s board culture as one characterized by mutual respect, where questions are encouraged. Directors feel safe, he says, to be transparent and vulnerable. “There's an element of trust around the table,” he says.

There’s more to Pinnacle’s story, which I’ll be sharing early next month in an article for directors participating in our Bank Services Membership Program. If you’re a member, we’re always seeking to make our program stronger, and I’d love to hear your feedback for future content. You can contact me at [email protected].

• Emily McCormick, vice president of editorial & research for Bank Director

A Regulator Questions Long-Standing M&A Practice 

A speech from a national bank regulator raised questions about whether a key calculation used to assess bank deals has kept up with today’s modern banking environment.

“[M]any experts have raised questions about the ongoing suitability of the current bank merger standards at a time of intense technological and societal change.” — Ben McDonough, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 

• Kiah Lau Haslett, managing editor for Bank Director

What 2022’s M&A Market Practice Can Teach Banks

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Leveraging Technology for Growth

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