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2015 Men of the Year Honoree: Shaun Burke

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Shaun Burke works to lead a century-old institution with the honesty and integrity he expects from a leader.

“My goal has been to never have these characteristics questioned,” says Burke, president and CEO of Guaranty Bank.

“I believe you should lead by example and never ask a team member to complete a task that you have not or would not tackle. Admitting your failures and giving credit to the team when you win builds teamwork and confidence.”

Burke’s banking career stretches more than 30 years, beginning with various positions, including vice president of commercial lending at Boatmen’s Bank, and moving on to chief lending officer and board member at Signature Bank. He has been with Guaranty Bank since 2004.

Tim Rosenbury was on Guaranty Bank’s board when Burke was hired to grow the institution from a local savings association into a full-service commercial bank.

“He has rebuilt the organization steadily and consistently over an 11-year period that included a significant devaluing of bank stocks, unprecedented increases in federal banking regulations and increased competition,” says Rosenbury, partner at architecture firm Butler, Rosenbury & Partners.

Surviving and also thriving during the global financial crisis dubbed the Great Recession was an all-hands-on-deck task, Burke says.

“Leading the Guaranty Bank team through the significant challenges during this time was life-changing and tremendously rewarding,” he says. “Hard work, tough decisions and a little luck resulted in our team coming out of the crisis more unified and focused on the future. Our performance has resulted in our stock price appreciating over 110 percent during the last three years.”

Rosenbury says Burke possesses the uncommon leadership described by author Jim Collins in his bestseller “Good to Great,” which says a “Level 5” leader – extreme humility combined with intense will – is paramount to transforming a good company into a great company.

“He has an inner drive for the success of the companies he leads, combined with a sincere humility that makes him approachable and generates loyalty,” Rosenbury says. “Though much of Guaranty’s success has been due in large part to his leadership, Shaun will quickly deflect praise to the team of banking professionals he has assembled and to his board. He will also tell you he is by no means finished with his mission.”

Burke believes in teamwork and opening avenues through which people can shine.

“Most people have a strong desire to win, so I believe in delegating responsibility and giving others the opportunity to be successful,” he says. “Show confidence in their ability and always provide fair-minded feedback and straightforward guidance when asked for help.”

Burke lends his leadership to civic organizations. Last year, he was named to the American Bankers Association’s Community Bankers Counsel. He has served the Missouri Bankers Association’s board and is the vice chairman of its legislative affairs committee.

Burke spent five years, including a term as president, on the board of the Springfield Business Development Corp., the economic development subsidiary of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, on whose board Burke also has served.


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