Crisis Communication: Learning From Leaders Like Jill Castilla

In times of crisis, we are all looking for inspiration from leaders who can rally others and provide a vision of hope to serve their communities. Few do this better than Jill Castilla, President and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has demonstrated servant leadership through uncertain times.

During our podcast-style conversation with Jill just a couple weeks ago, she discussed the topics of leadership and togetherness through this trying time. From remaining calm through the storm to ways can we help our communities while keeping employees safe, we’ve highlighted a few key takeaways from Jill Castilla on leading through crisis.

Be Agile

Jill and other leaders at Citizens Bank of Edmond saw the crisis coming before it hit. In response, they improvised and implemented a three-point plan to help provide customer service without any degradations in service. First, Jill helped employees prepare for change by updating policies and creating remote work kits for employees – complete with computers, keyboards, and phones. Second, she led Citizens Bank of Edmond in educating customers on the changes in their operations, including changing lobbies to appointment only and operating drive-thru services. Lastly, as many of you know, her entrepreneurial spirit means their team found different ways to support customers while working 100% remote.

Pro-Tip:

Regularly check-in with staff and seek feedback from customers to help your team quickly identify areas for growth and change. Communication is the best way to help control the chaos.

Communicate Effectively

The COVID-19 pandemic took many by surprise. Within a week, many industries – and even some states – began to shut down and begin “shelter in place” procedures. With times this uncertain, leadership is shown by communicating authentically and transparently with customers and staff. Jill frequently shares her cell phone number online for people to text her questions. Moreover, she leads company-wide meetings with employees to help them understand changes in operations and how they can continue to meet the needs of their community.

Jill, Leadership in Our Communities: 

Pro-Tip:

If you’re a local bank, you’re a leader in your community; your customers and employees are looking at you to provide leadership and answers.

Provide Value

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This loan provides an incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on their payroll. Jill led her team in quickly incorporating this program at Citizens Bank of Edmond. She went the extra mile by helping small businesses get their funding faster – attracting the attention of a noteworthy shark. This entrepreneurial mindset among employees helps them to identify and work on ways to meet the needs of their communities faster.

Pro-Tip:

To help foster this kind of culture in your organization, encourage peer-to-peer problem-solving. Enact helpful ideas company-wide and champion the efforts made by those on your team.