by Michael L. Stevens, GSBC President & CEO

GSBC’s Board of Trustees and Alumni Advisory Board took a unique approach to their fall meetings in November by learning about George Washington’s and other historical figures’ approaches to leadership. The sessions were held at the George Washington Leadership Institute in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.

Among many takeaways, one was clear: Washington may have been leading in a very different time with complex and rarely experienced circumstances, but the guiding principles of his approach to leadership still offer us insight and direction as we navigate today’s rapidly changing banking environment.

Three aspects of Washington’s leadership skills especially resonated with GSBC’s leaders as we consider what is required of us today:

  1. Strategic Vision: A leader must integrate the mission with reality by understanding the overarching goals.
  2. Strategic Patience: A leader must choose the right moment for action.
  3. Strategic Agility: A leader must respond effectively to change and opportunity.

In 2022, the Board of Trustees adopted a strategic plan that affirmed our mission of creating community bank leaders, honored our legacy of providing a foundational education to our industry, and established an innovative vision for its exciting future. By the end of 2024, we will have largely completed the initial phase of the plan, notably, ahead of schedule.

The plan’s early stages were largely focused on defining GSBC’s student experience and curriculum philosophy. This helped to ensure everyone knows what to expect and the desired outcome from attending GSBC. Affirming these foundations was critical as we continue to innovate to meet the needs of community banks, our students, and the long-term needs of our industry.

The final stage of the strategic plan will focus on brainstorming on the development needs of the community banker of the future, exploring ways to define “community” beyond physical location and learning about innovative approaches to executive education.

Beginning in April, we will begin working with our board of trustees to discern the key initiatives of the next phase of the strategic plan. Rest assured, GSBC will continue to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the banks’ and students’ experiences today. There is no drive for a radical change to the GSBC experience, only an objective of continued evolution and excellence, which very much aligns with our school’s history. The work accomplished in the next phase will allow us to launch new initiatives to further distinguish our students as the nation’s best community bank leaders, test new approaches to curriculum and engagement and keep an eye on building a resilient future for community banks.

So, what does this have to do with George Washington?

Vision always matters. The vision for GSBC must be guided by clear goals and be realistic for the current environment and needs of the industry.

Timing is everything. There are times we need to push forward and times we need to hold back. We need to be in sync with our stakeholders and where they are relative to the challenges and demands of their current environment.

There must be a bias for action. Change, crisis and opportunity are going to happen. We must be prepared and willing to act to serve our stakeholders.

As we closed the board meeting, one of the trustees commented, “We have momentum. You can feel the momentum.” Exciting things are happening at GSBC. Thank you for your continued support.


Michael L. Stevens, GSBC President & CEO