George Martinez on Leadership for the Future
The word “leader” is often related to prominent people in the world or in your own community. To many, thinking back on a prolific leader in your life means reflecting on someone who has guided the way that you approach situations of leadership and community. For many in the Houston area, George Martinez, Vice Chairman of Allegiance Bank comes to mind when thinking about leadership. George’s approach to leadership in the workplace over the past 40+ years has had an impact on numerous lives throughout his career as a banker. Martinez’s legacy will live on and reflect through future generations across the Houston banking community.
Martinez was recently a guest on Christina Tinker’s podcast, Leadership for the Future & Harnessing Uncertainty. When prompted for his definition of a leader, Martinez gives a few of his personal definitions right off the bat. “A great leader is someone driven by something bigger than themselves. A leader makes something happen that wasn’t going to happen anyway.”
Martinez goes on to describe a great leader as someone who is genuine, authentic, humble and understanding of themselves. In addition, he also stresses the importance of listening authentically. He explains that most will assume that a good leader must be a skilled speaker, but more importantly, leaders must actively listen and strive to hear what others are communicating.
Leadership in Action
While some do not practice what they preach, Martinez was recently confronted with his definition of leadership and the importance of active listening. At the beginning of COVID-19, when the world experienced great uncertainty across all paths of life, Martinez observed that Allegiance Bank employees were living in fear. Employees were fearful of the unknown new coronavirus, fearful of getting sick, and fearful of losing their jobs. Allegiance Bank leadership understood that things had changed, and employees needed an increased and different type of communication.
Martinez describes his approach to communication during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Even if we did not know, we were sure to communicate.” Recognizing the increased need to connect ensured that employees felt cared for, supported and listened to during the pandemic.
Martinez credits his personal values and mission for showing up in his leadership style, which boils down to the importance of people and taking care of your own. “I have a commitment to business being a particular way, contributing to society. If you go to business school… they will teach you that business is all about generating a profit for the investor. I have never bought into that. I think the investor is critically important… But for me, a business that is really sustainable over a long period of time and gives you the best return for investors is a business that has a commitment to all the constituents, to the employees, to the customers, to the community.”
Martinez’s approach to not just focusing on the shareholders but focusing on everyone has been a driving factor behind his long-term mission. When everyone is taken care of, the long term will be that much better.
Being vs. Doing
Martinez asks leaders in the younger generation to focus on people, not just profits. He understands that businesses must first have a marketplace opportunity, but leaders should take steps to lead humanistically. “People are a critical piece to delivering a product or service. People are critical. Do not treat people like they are dispensable.” Martinez also stresses the importance of supporting the small businesses in a community, something that Allegiance Bank understands well.
George Martinez’s “You and Me” approach to leadership has been seen and applied throughout his career. Great leaders help others reach their goals but know that taking care of people is of the utmost importance. While some are viewed as leaders because of seniority, Martinez’s approach to leadership is unrelated to his position at Allegiance Bank. His leadership style comes from years of genuine dedication to people and practicing the qualities he believes in. Not just by knowing or doing, but by being a leader.
Listen to George Martinez as a guest on Leadership for the Future & Harnessing Uncertainty here.
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