Letters From Leton: Unlocking Your Business Gyms!

With the recent tragic accident of the helicopter crash in California, my mind has turned to basketball.

As a young fellow, basketball was my sport. I emulated my favorite player, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and perfected the hook shoot – a shot that allowed me to play against taller players and frustrated my opponents.

The perfection of my shot came not at my local middle or high school gyms but at my dirt court at my home with a homemade basket. Why there, you may ask, and not at a real gym? Because the schools kept the gyms locked and only allowed them to be used by organized teams.

I compare that history with my best friend Fred. Fred grew up in West Virginia, and the gyms were always open. Coaches and parents were there to keep the gyms open so kids could play and learn the game. This practice led to the development of great West Virginia players like Jerry West, Hot Rod Hundley, and Mike D’Antoni (Fred’s friend and former high school teammate and now the coach of the Houston Rockets) and a culture of high expectations for basketball players there.

The folks in West Virginia saw gyms as a developing tool – not a place to keeps kids out of because they would scuff the pretty floors with their shoes – thus the significant difference in talent that has historically come out of West Virginia versus SWVA.

In the business and banking world we can often keep our “Gyms” locked, which hinders the development of the talents of our employees. We can be afraid of the scuff marks that occur when we allow our employees to grow and learn – often from their mistakes. We can also miss the hidden talents of folks around us because we do not allow them the place and time to develop their abilities. We pre-judge who we should let onto the court and create a system that can lead to nepotism versus merit.

It takes a lot of effort and commitment to keep the Gyms of business open so these folks can grow and develop, but doing so allows stars to grow from places we did not see coming.

Are you keeping your business Gyms open to develop your talent? Or are you missing the next potential star for your team?

– Leton

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.