Values-based leadership within the banking & financial services Industry. An international study of CEOs practicing values-based leadership

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Gill, Amita Oppal
This exploratory study sought to examine, understand, compare, and contrast leaders’ career experiences and key moments that led to their choosing values-based leadership practices within the financial services industry. In this study, 6 chief executive officers (CEOs) from the banking industry across Europe and Canada provided insights into what led them to become values-based leaders and how they developed leadership practices working with values within their financial services organizations. The 6 leaders were CEOs of regional banks and credit unions, five of whom were members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). This is an exploratory study seeking to add to the literature of values-based leadership within the financial services industry and explore further areas of study from the preliminary key findings from this research. This research highlights themes identified from the values-based leaders interviewed. It also identifies priorities for further study that arise from comparing the experiences of the 6 values-based leaders, their values, their career experiences, key moments throughout their career, initial shifts to values-based leadership, sources of support, how they related to employees, and their advice to up-and-coming leaders in developing and sustaining their own values-based leadership practice. The research findings describe how differently the leaders view their own values, how they related to employees, how informal sources of support when in leadership are vital, and the importance of self-reflection throughout each of their own values-based leadership career. The leaders’ focus on leading with values is instrumental in developing leadership practices within financial services organizations enhancing working with values. Yet, there is a lack of documented research of values-based financial services leaders and their values-based career experiences and key moments. Finding values-based leaders in the financial services industry is not simple, but it adds to the relevance of determining the key features of the leaders’ career experiences leading them to become values-based leaders. Using comparative case study methodology, this research explores the career experiences and significant moments of 6 CEOs within the financial services sector. The study identifies common themes and differences in the values, career experience and formative moments experienced by the leaders along with their leadership practices that illustrate working with values. The themes explored are (a) the leaders’ stated core values and their meanings, (b) the leaders’ shifts towards a values-based perspective, (c) critical moments prior to and throughout the leaders’ initial shifts towards values-based leadership, (d) sources of support within their organizations throughout their values-based leadership careers, (e) the leaders’ relationships with their stakeholder groups, (f) critical leadership perceptions and practices in relating with employees, and (g) the participants’ advice to leaders about maintaining a practice reflecting their values. Current and emerging financial services leaders are likely to be interested in the similarities and differences of the values, career experiences and approach that characterize the leaders who have developed leadership practices that enhance working with values so that they too may understand how to do the same. Keywords: values-based leadership, financial services, values, leadership, banking
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