GBA Member Profile

Johnny Smith
President & CEO
Newton Federal Bank

Q: What is one leadership lesson you have learned that you still think about today? 

My story starts with my father. He was a living example of many of the qualities that you find in great leaders. Throughout my life I’ve been influenced by other individuals that embrace the same characteristics as my father – people like Bill Curry and Homer Rice; both of whom are football legends. The one similarity these great men share that resonates with me still today is the principle that no one person or position is more important than the other. That teamwork is the best work. And great leaders have the ability to bring out the best in the people they lead. Whether it’s competing on the football field or in the game of life, what we do for others will always be more important than what we do for ourselves. For me, this is the accurate measure of leadership. 

Q: Who gets the most credit for driving you to succeed and grow as an individual? From the beginning until now; who has made the biggest impact?

There has never been anyone more impactful in my life than my father. He taught me at an early age to never expect handouts in life, but instead to be willing to work hard and earn the things you want in life. That the race is not always won by the fastest nor the strongest but by those that endure. To always value the opinions of others, not placing myself above any person but often reaching back to help those that stand in need. Not offering handouts, but a hand up by giving those things that are most important in life – our time and our talents. I believe that when we do this, we put into motion the wheels of change that improve our communities and the lives of those we touch as community bankers. Only when this happens will success be measured not by the level of assets we attain as bankers but instead by the accomplishments of those we serve in and around our communities.   

Q: What’s your favorite part of any day on the job at the bank? 

Any time a customer or an employee comes up to me and thanks me for the contributions and support that we provide as Newton Federal Bank, particularly when no one else would, then that makes my day. Our company brand promise is "making a difference," and I believe we are fortunate to be in a business that challenges us each and every day to find a way to make a difference in the lives of others. Sure, our industry requires us to monitor and measure with the proper controls. But these things should never be used as an excuse for not doing the right thing. When I see our employees making our purpose and brand promise the bottom line instead of profits, I know we are fulfilling our commitment to making a difference every day. Without a doubt, this is the best part of being a community bank president.

Q: How does involvement with GBA help you and your bank?

Community banks play a critical role in keeping local economies vibrant and growing by making available credit and other valuable banking resources. We’re able to respond more readily to the needs of consumers and small businesses because of our hometown roots and close ties to the communities we serve. In the same way, the GBA helps to keep community banks properly informed and in touch with industry trends by organizing networking opportunities, roundtable discussions and peer meetings, which ultimately give community banks a competitive advantage. As a president, I have found the information and contacts I've received through my affiliation with the GBA to be priceless. And not only my involvement, but other members of my management team are heavily involved in the GBA. We look at it as an investment and not an expense because of the return we get from our membership.

Q: When you’re not on the job at the bank or fulfilling GBA or other duties in the community, what do you like to do?

I like to be out with my family (wife Judy, daughter Maggie and son Taylor) tailgating at football games. I enjoy the atmosphere and excitement that comes from a day of fellowship with family and friends before a game. I also enjoy watching Maggie and Taylor compete in golf. Golf is a passion of mine, and I’ve been fortunate to see both of my children embrace the sport competitively and even compete all over this country at many levels.