Newer Dimensions: A Glance Into the Concept of Abundant Leadership

History is sometimes interpreted as the story of those who wielded tremendous power over the people and had a distinguished Aura or Halo around them. This Aura or we can say a marked Personality glued the Ordinary to the Person of the Wielder in a tacit chain of unquestionable Loyalty, Awe and Inspiration. However, what distinguished the Wielder of such a power was not his/her outer characteristics, but their inner mindset, thought process, courage, enterprising ability, perseverance in the face of adversity & so on. We often identify such a Person as a Leader.

A natural derivative of the above discussion implies that Leadership is all about mindset. Now, in the post-covid World, the over-arching importance of mindset cannot be gainsaid.

Abundant Leadership, in effect, embarks on the concept of abundance. Understand it this way: What if your leadership entails an unceasing flow of optimism and a corresponding presence of choices and opportunities everywhere? A confident and self-believing leader will definitely vouch for such a scenario, where they go on to share their success secrets, believe in joint progress and does not feel threatened by the fear of losing their competitive edge in the market by spreading their hard-earned wisdom. However, a more usual and expected scenario is a leader going on a defensive or assuming that they know all. Especially in capricious economic times, like after the devastating covid pandemic, the tendency shifts towards conserving the resources, feeling alarmed, at even minor problems or holding on to assets with all might.

This is where Abundant Leadership comes into play. By managing the emotions, rebooting the entrenched behaviours and thought patterns & working on the mindset, an entire scenario could be transformed, which earlier looked bleak and hopeless. An Abundant Leader focuses on his strengths and skills while at the same time taking along with other people on the tide of abundance with themselves, also concurrently tackling obstacles fearlessly with grit and courage. An Abundant Leader remains ready to walk the life-long path of self-awareness. By affecting the inner mastery of feelings, an Abundant Leader is able to manifest, what lesser leaders are unable to.

The lesser leaders here are usually those identified with a ‘scarcity mindset’. A leader carrying a scarcity mindset perceives the world in terms of what is lacking. They hold notions that the resources of the world are limited and the growth of one must necessarily mean a corresponding diminishing for another. They build walls around them and lead with fear, which they also pass on to their teams, stripping them of their confidence. They believe that nothing is sufficient, nor it ever will be. They hesitate from innovation and risks and shy away from anything which does not appear doable or realistic. This underlies ‘The Crucial Difference’ and Abundance Leaders succeed here hands down.

So, what are those crucial behaviours and mindset that sets Abundant Leaders apart from the rest? As mentioned, Abundant Leaders work from the perspective of growth and abundance. They are free from any insecurities which could make them timid and self-fulfilling. They believe in the growth of the community and the success of their tribe. They aspire to leave a legacy of abundance behind and tend to bequeath more value to the world than they have taken from it. Believe me, almost all the super successful entrepreneurs, businessmen & women, executives, managers etc. have this same mindset of abundance and they thereby through this attracts even more wealth and success in life while simultaneously also helping to fulfil others’ dreams. Let us now outline some distinguishing behaviours of abundant leaders which keep them in top gear even during times of crisis and uncertainties.

  • They give Credit to Others: Abundant Leaders tend to put the limelight on their co-contributors while they themselves love to enjoy the glory of the joint success. They care little for fame but rather vouch for the enrichment of ideas and knowledge.
  • They Solicit Inputs: Abundant Leaders sincerely believe in the wisdom and knowledge of others and do not shy away from asking for Inputs. They prefer to reach the best solution through active participation and share the exploits of success.
  • They accord Trust: Abundant Leaders know the importance of extending trust to others as they know that in order to the achieve best results, a trusting environment is an absolute must. This does not imply that they are gullible or do not recognise risks or failures, but it shows the priority they attach to a culture of trust, which starts with them.
  • They take time to coach others: Abundant Leaders like to pass on their knowledge and expertise by helping others in attaining their endeavours. Such an exercise of coaching others not only create a general abundance for all but is perceived as greatly rewarding for the Abundant Leaders themselves.
  • They Connect People in their Networks: By carrying a helping attitude, Abundant Leaders become a medium to connect those who come seeking help, to their network, thereby raising a community of like-minded individuals oriented towards growth and success.
  • They reach out to others to meet unspoken needs: Abundant Leaders remain deeply sensitive to others’ needs and when they find someone struggling, they do not hesitate to reach out to them with a helping hand or offer words of encouragement or advice.

Abundant Leadership is a thing of tomorrow. Especially in the current testing times, shaping a culture focused on abundance and minds oriented towards Growth and Success, while holding each other’s hands and participating in each other’s progress, Abundant Leaders will not only be able to survive but thrive.

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Internet Banking: Relevance in a Changing World

Surprising, but true – Internet-based activity is not the preserve of the young “digital native” generation alone. A 2008 survey says that Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976) uses Internet banking significantly more than any other demographic segment, with two thirds of Internet users in this age group banking online.

Gen X users have also professed their preference for applications such as Facebook, to share, connect and be part of a larger community.

This is some irony in this, since online banking, as we know it today, offers minimal interactivity. Unlike in a branch, where the comfort of two way interaction facilitates the consummation of a variety of transactions, the one way street of e-banking has only managed to enable the more routine tasks, such as balance enquiry or funds transfer.

It’s not hard to put two and two together. A clear opportunity exists for banks that can transform today’s passive Internet banking offering into one that provides a more widespread and interactive customer experience.

It is therefore imperative that banks transform their online offering, such that it matches the new expectations of customers. Moreover, Internet banking must journey to popular online customer hangouts, rather than wait for customers to come to it.

There are clear indications that the shift towards a “next generation” online banking environment has already been set in motion. It is only a matter of time before these trends become the norm.

Leveraging of Social Networks

Forward thinking banks are leveraging existing social networks on external sites to increase their visibility among interested groups. They are also deploying social software technology on their own sites to engage the same communities in two way discussions. Thus, their Internet banking has assumed a more pervasive persona – customers are engaging with the bank, along with its products and services even when they’re not actually transacting online.

Heightened visibility apart, banks can gain tremendous customer insight from such unstructured, informal interactions. For example, a discussion on the uncertain financial future among a group of 18 to 25 year olds could be a signal to banks to offer long term investment products to a segment that was previously not considered a target. Going one step further, a positive buzz around a newly launched service can create valuable word-of-mouth advertising for the business.

Collaborating through Web 2.0

The collaborative aspect of Web 2.0 applications has enabled banks to draw customers inside their fold more than ever before. Traditional methods such as focus group discussions or market research suffer from the disadvantages of high cost, limited scope and potential to introduce bias. Feedback forms merely serve as a post-mortem. In contrast, Web 2.0 has the ability to carry a vast audience along right from the start, and continue to do so perpetually. Thus, an interested community of prospects and customers participate in co-creating products and services which can fulfil their expectations.

The pervasiveness of Web 2.0 enables delivery of e-banking across multiple online locations and web-based gadgets such as Yahoo!Widgets, Windows Live or the iPhone. This means next generation online banking customers will enjoy heightened access and convenience

A New York based firm of analysts found that 15% of the 70 banks tracked by them had adopted Web 2.0, a number of them having done so within the last 12 months.

Standard Chartered Bank employees connect with their colleagues through Facebook and use the platform to share knowledge, clarify questions and participate in discussions on ongoing company activities.

Bank of America, Wachovia Bank and Commonwealth Credit Union have built a presence within interactive media to create awareness and keep up a dialogue with interested communities. They have employed a variety of methods, ranging from creating YouTube communities to launching campaigns on Current TV, a channel in which viewers determine content.

Personalisation of Online Banking

Vanilla e-banking divides customers into very large, heterogeneous groups – typically, corporate, retail or SME, with one type of Internet banking page for each. That’s in sharp contradiction to how banking organisations would like to view their clientele. Banks are moving towards customer-specificity, almost viewing each client as a “segment of one”, across other channels, and online banking is set to follow suit. For instance, a specific home page for home loan customers and another for private banking clients could well be a possibility in future.

Interestingly, National Bank of Kuwait had the foresight to do this several years ago – they enabled customers to determine which products they would view and access, and were rewarded with a dramatic increase in online transactions.

Money Monitor from Yes Bank allows customers to choose their landing page – for example, they can set “all transactions”, “net worth” or “portfolio” as their default view. Other features include the ability to categorise transactions as per customers’ convenience and the printing of custom reports.

Empowerment Online

Beyond doubt, Internet banking has created a more informed, empowered class of customers. This is set to climb to the next level once customers are allowed to proactively participate in many more transaction-related processes. The Internet has already made it possible for customers to compare product loan offerings, simulate financial scenarios and design custom retirement portfolios. Going forward, they would be able to consummate related transactions – which means, after comparing interest rates, they could originate a loan online, and once secured, they can begin to repay it online as well.

Portalisation

The emergence of Web 2.0 technology coupled with banks’ desire to personalise their e-banking to the highest degree is likely to result in “portalisation” of Internet banking. The idea of banking customers being able to create their own spaces online, filled with all that is relevant to them, is not that far-fetched. Customers can personalise their Internet banking page to reflect the positions of multiple accounts across different banks; they could include their credit card information, subscribe to their favourite financial news, consolidate their physical assets position, share their experiences with a group and do more – all from one “place”.

Money Monitor enables customers to add multiple “accounts” (from a choice of 9,000) to their page. Accounts could be savings or loan accounts with major Indian banks, or those with utilities providers, credit card companies, brokerage firms and even frequent flyer programs. Users can customise their pages as described earlier.

As banks seek to develop their Internet banking vision for the future, in parallel, they will also need to address the key issues of security and “due defence”. While it is every marketer’s dream to have customers work as ambassadors, adequate precaution must be taken to prevent the proliferation of malicious or spurious publicity. Therefore, before an individual is allowed to participate in a networking forum, he or she must have built up a favorable track record with the bank. The individual must be a recognized customer of the bank, having used a minimum number of products over a reasonable length of time. Qualitative information about the person’s interaction with the bank’s support staff (for example frequency and type of calls made to their call centre, outcome of such interaction and so on) may be invaluable in profiling the “right” type of customer who can be recruited as a possible advocate.

Collaborative Web 2.0 applications may necessitate opening up banks’ websites to outside technology and information exchange with third party sites, raising the spectre of data and infrastructure security. A robust mechanism of checks and balances must be built to ensure that the third party sites are secure, appropriately certified and pose no threat to the home banks’ sites. Likewise, before a third party widget is allowed to be brought on to a site, it must have passed through stringent security control.

Due diligence must be exercised before permitting users to place a link to another site to guard against the possibility of inadvertent download of malicious software, which could, in the worst case, even result in phishing originating from the banks’ sites.

It is equally important for a bank to guard its customers against invasion of privacy, data theft or misuse. The concept of portalisation envisages deploying technology to bring information from other banks’ or financial service providers’ websites into the home bank’s site. The home bank must ensure that its customers’ personal or transaction related information, which may be shared with the other providers, is not susceptible to leakage or outright misuse.

Banks will do well to partner with an Internet banking solution provider which has not only the expertise to translate their vision into a cutting edge e-banking experience for the user, but also the foresight to define boundaries for safety. With security concerns adequately addressed, next generation Internet banking is full of exciting possibilities. Banks that seize the opportunity may find that Internet banking can become a means of differentiating themselves from competitors, rather than a mere cost cutting tool. Clearly, providing a more powerful and interactive e-banking experience, is the way forward.

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