Troy Butler, MBA’06
“An important characteristic in a good leader is knowing when to defer to others. I don’t have all the answers and am completely comfortable with someone on my team knowing more than I do about a given issue.”
Ask today’s job seekers what factors weigh in the balance when deciding where to work and most will tell you that organizational culture is key. Throughout the last two years, Troy Butler has experienced this firsthand, as he joined a new organization and learned its culture inside-out.
“Corporate culture is the attribute that attracted me to ChoiceOne Bank,” says Butler. “It is an environment that is supportive, entrepreneurial, curious and results-driven. What I’m most proud of is our willingness to listen to and consider innovative ideas that customers and employees bring to the table.”
Butler serves as a vice president, with a focus on commercial lending and business development in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, market. His goal is to be a trusted advisor to local business owners in all aspects of their businesses, serving as a financial partner with a vested interest in the success of clients’ ventures. Becoming a trusted advisor requires him to model his bank’s listening culture every day and then add value for clients as he learns about their business needs.
Recently, Butler had a complex loan unlike any in ChoiceOne’s 120-year history. The loan helped fund a $9.5 million construction project. There were numerous stakeholders involved, including ChoiceOne and its board of directors, another financial institution, a Wall Street trader, and three attorneys. The different parties had disparate and often competing interests. After four months of meetings, lots of listening, and clear and consistent communication, the deal closed, and the new client is pleased with the solution that the bank’s team provided.
“Employees are encouraged to find creative ways to model our mission, which is to provide superior service, quality advice and the utmost respect to our clients and each other,” says Butler. “ChoiceOne’s culture was on full display and worked beautifully in my recent loan closing. It took a measure of faith for the bank to do something that had never been done in its history.”
Personally, Butler contributes to the organization’s culture by bringing a unique perspective that blends 20 years of experience at financial institutions large and small. He also has an adaptive leadership style, which allows him to be futurist in his thinking. “Bankers, as a group, can be especially guilty of doing things a certain way because it’s comfortable and worked well in the past. I challenge that notion daily with an eye toward what the next 10 to 15 years will look like.”
This self-knowledge makes Butler able to appreciate others’ strengths. “An important characteristic in a good leader is knowing when to defer to others. I don’t have all the answers and am completely comfortable with someone on my team knowing more than I do about a given issue.”
As one of a limited number of African American commercial lenders in the state of Michigan, Butler knows he adds a measure of diversity to an industry that needs it. “My biggest concern is that relatively little is happening day-to-day to drive greater diversity in our industry, other than talking about it. It has been 14 years since I sat in a loan committee meeting where another African American was present. In that same time span, there have been a handful of women and even fewer other minority groups at the table. I believe that legacy of homogeneity impacts the decision-making process and the subsequent outcomes—otherwise diversity wouldn’t be under discussion nationwide across all industries. Discussion is the first step. Action is the next.”