Mike Ott (second from right) recently accompanied US Bank CEO Richard Davis, (second from left) to receive the Freedom Award from Paul Mock, National Chair of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (right) and Jessica Wright, Undersecretary of Defense.

Mike Ott (second from right) recently accompanied US Bank CEO Richard Davis (second from left), to receive the Freedom Award from Paul Mock, National Chair of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (right) and Jessica Wright, Undersecretary of Defense.

Since the financial meltdown in 2007, positive publicity in the Wall Street Journal about banking executives is rare. That’s why I’m so happy to introduce you to Mike Ott.

Last year on November 11, 2014, I read a WSJ.com article about my friend Mike Ott: the president of US Bank Private Client Reserve executive. The article, “Bank Boss Would Hire Any Military Person, Sight Unseen.” was all about positivity and patriotism in American business.

Immediately, I picked up the phone and asked Mike to be the closing speaker for the 2015 Good Leadership Breakfast Series. Well, the date has come and it’s no surprise the event is sold out…but you can get on the waiting list here.

From the Air Force into business

George W. Bush congratulated Mike Ott on his leadership and service to the United States of America.

George W. Bush congratulated Mike Ott on his leadership and service to the United States of America.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1985, Mike Ott spent seven years on active duty including a strategic role in The Pentagon during the early Kuwait invasions. “I never deployed to Kuwait, but I believe our work had a significant role,” he shared. “We used our influence to convince the loadmasters to send some new technology ahead of its time to the people on the ground. That technology allowed us to see the beginning of the end of that war.”

How do military leadership skills translate into banking? “Even though we had to do survival training and other ‘holy crap moments,’ I think the most important thing we learned involved building teams and encouraging great things from people,” he recalls. Banking and the military are both highly structured, but Mike believes the best results in both environments come from giving people the freedom and encouragement to find their own path to achieving important goals.

Positivity: the catalyst for goodness in leadership

Mike applied the "IPAD" strategy: Integrity, Positive Attitude and Dedication with his family at his retirement from the Reserves.

Mike applied the “IPAD” strategy: Integrity, Positive Attitude and Drive with his family at his retirement from the Reserves.

Personally, I like Mike because his laughter is infectious and his silly humor is contagious. But it’s his positivity that’s most admirable in his leadership. Here’s what some of his colleagues had to say:

  • “He is able to get his team to believe the right direction is to always go forward.”
  • “He walks the talk – he pioneered the “Bring your kids to work events” philosophy at the bank, highlighting the importance of family to being good on the job.”
  • “He is not one to be overly formal or a fault-finder – instead, he is more interested in doing good work and having fun along the way.”

When I probed into his family-first approach he said: “I’m just a father and husband who loves his job, his family and his country – just like most everyone I know.”  Yes, yes…I replied. But what about that special philosophy I’ve heard about around your dinner table?  “Oh yeah,” he chuckled. “My wife and kids adhere to the ‘IPAD’ strategy for growing through life: Integrity, Positive Attitude, and Drive. I believe we can accomplish any thing with ‘IPAD.'”

Duty and Honor

MIke Ott, President of US Bank Private Client Reserve: speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast, Friday, November 20, 2015.

Mike Ott, President of US Bank Private Client Reserve: Speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast, Friday, November 20, 2015.

In 2013, Mike accompanied US Bank CEO, Richard Davis, to Washington D.C. to accept the Freedom Award from the Secretary of Defense and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. It’s the nation’s highest honor of its kind. The bank created a Proud to Serve program with the intention of hiring more than 1,000 military veterans into the bank. Today, the bank employs more than 2,000 current and former members of the U.S. military. And Mike Ott is leading the way – that’s why he is the closing speaker for the 2015 series.

Good leaders make a habit to honor their colleagues with integrity, a positive attitude, and drive in their endeavors. And they find ways to have fun along the way.

Please share with me: where do you see positivity in leadership around you?

PS: Live music by the Benny Weinbeck Trio at the Good Leadership Breakfast this Friday is presented by Alerus.

Alerus