Every sort of company needs a unifying vision for its work force, shareholders, and customers. That's especially true for banks, because the financial services industry is consolidating and homogenizing fast.

Focus on who you want to be; visualize the kind of company that will be successful in the future; focus on that vision instead of on your past.

Incremental change may not be the way to go. Consider getting radical- making a dramatic departure from your current vision and corporate culture.

To compensate for drastic change, you need to care about the employees and business more than ever. Try to catch people doing the right thing, and acknowledge them for doing so. We are too good at catching people making mistakes, and not good enough at recognizing excellence. Though it is time for "tough love" in most organizations, it is also time for truly caring and nurturing management.

One sure way to change culture is to revise the reward and compensation system.

Rewarding people for trying does not send the right signal; though "A for effort" is important, shareholders can't eat effort-they can only eat results. Employees who do not contribute enough to changing the culture and realizing the new organizational vision should get hit in the pocketbook, as shareholders will. Design a reward system that motivates your employees; as long as they perform, you know that the system is working.

To support the reward system, measure the results and track progress. Do so to identify small victories (to share across the company) as well as pockets of resistance to change (which you can isolate and address). Continuous inspection is essential; when people know you are not watching, they will not deliver.

But though watching and inspecting are important, don't let them strangle entrepreneurship and or throw off your new focus. Make the monitoring simple, and celebrate the victories that promote the vision-no matter how small they are-with evangelical zeal.

Sell the dream, and make winning glorious. To do that you must keep the dialogue going with the troops, whether the news is good or bad. No news always seems like bad news; what employees imagine is often worse than the reality.

During times of change, there will be casualties. Give people the option to leave without feeling like traitors. Your new vision may not be for everyone, and the company you are creating may not fit some people who work for you now. Some will opt out if they know that the change is not the fad of the week, and that your commitment to a new culture is unwavering and non-negotiable. This is the price of change, and the company and the employees are better off for it.

In today's business world, we all need to live in "dog years"-seven years in one. Significant change can be made in very short order. Expect swift execution and quick results.

By daring to expect and dream, you can lead the entire enterprise to levels no team member dreamed were possible.

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