Classes Discovered from ICBA’s Karen Thomas – Unbiased Banker


By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA

Karen Thomas

Karen Thomas

This yr, after virtually 30 years at ICBA, Karen Thomas is retiring. Because the chief of our authorities relations and advocacy group, she has constructed an distinctive legacy and garnered industrywide admiration for the depth of her information and her exceptional humility. As her departure approaches, we sat down to debate her path to management and her recommendation to others.

Lead by instance

Thomas initially educated as a lawyer and describes herself as stumbling into monetary companies legislation earlier than becoming a member of ICBA as a part of the regulatory group in 1992. She realized methods to be a pacesetter from the bottom up, rising along with her colleagues and in the end heading up a group of 30. As a result of it’s all she has ever carried out, Thomas is a agency believer in rolling your sleeves up and diving in, stepping into the trenches and studying each function. “I believe that’s helped me to know what the challenges are,” she explains, “and to have the ability to information folks, present options and steerage as to methods to method issues and methods to get issues carried out.”

Be observant

Thomas attributes any humility she is perceived as having to a willingness to see and study from the attitude of others. That features studying from these you don’t admire in addition to these you do. All the time attempt to perceive the place the opposite individual is coming from, she says. It should assist you determine what your perspective is, why it’s proper or fallacious and methods to persuade someone of why you’re proper.

Be thorough

Over time, Thomas has frequently interacted with coverage makers and advises discovering calm in high-pressure conditions by being thorough, credible and considerate. “It’s a must to marshal your info and figures,” she says. “It’s a must to communicate with authority, and I don’t imply loudly or interrupting all people. But when you understand what you’re speaking about, it helps persuade different folks of the rightness and authority of one thing that you just’re saying.”

Construct consensus

As a consummate group participant, Thomas believes many heads are often higher than one. Which means permitting concepts to feed off one another, irrespective of how “bizarre” they may initially appear. That, she says, is essential to morale and motivation but in addition to good outcomes and effectiveness. “It takes the stress off the chief if you will get consensus,” she provides. “Then all people’s agreed, so that they’re blissful, too.”

Clarify the why

Nevertheless, while you’re explaining a choice that you just’ve needed to make, at all times embrace the why. “You don’t need it to be like while you have been a bit child and your mother mentioned, ‘As a result of I mentioned so,’” Thomas laughs. “Everyone needs to know why, and in the event that they perceive the why, they’ll settle for it or see that it’s the proper method.”

It’s laborious to think about ICBA with out Thomas round, however we sit up for her carving out time for herself away from her overflowing inbox, and we want her huge happiness in her retirement.

Lindsay LaNore ( is ICBA’s group government vice chairman and chief studying and expertise officer


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