Article

From John: 3 Things Your CU’s Leaders Must Agree On—and Why

John Pembroke Photo
President/CEO
CUES

3 minutes

Make sure you align your team for Innovation, talent development and opportunities in the strategic plan.

This column originally ran on CUInsight

Even the best pro quarterbacks can’t win games by themselves. Despite being able to call some of their own plays, these athletes will find success most often when they’re aligned with the other top team leaders—the coaches.

After all, coaches define the culture of the team. They set offensive and defensive strategy. Some even have the big-picture perspective that comes from sitting in the skybox to view the game rather than being in the thick of the action. 

In short, winning football teams have leaders who are in alignment.

Similarly, credit unions will be stronger when the visions of their CEO and board align—setting the tone for the rest of the organization. Consider this quote attributed to Bill George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic: 

“The most empowering condition of all is when the entire organization is aligned with its mission, and people’s passions and purpose are in synch with each other.”

In contrast, lack of alignment and agreement among an organization’s leadership “causes disinterest among board members, who then simply default to tackling regulatory and compliance issues,” according to an article in Harvard Business Review that was written by Ana Dutra when she was the head of leadership and talent consulting at Korn Ferry International.

For credit unions to succeed in today’s marketplace, the CEO and the board need to align on these three key factors:

1. Innovation. Be sure to have a board-level conversation about your organization’s appetite for change. What percentage of your energy will be spent on incremental innovation vs. breakthroughs vs. transformations?

2. Talent development. In the big picture, who does your credit union want to hire, train and retain? At what level compared to peers and competitors is your credit union committed to getting the best people on board, growing them, and keeping them happy so they’ll stay?

3. Opportunities in the strategic plan. In your vision, where are the places you’ll have the most positive impact on your organization and its members? If you row together, you’ll be more likely to get there. Talk explicitly about this in your next board meeting and gauge your level of agreement on priorities.

As your professional development association, CUES understands the need to align your CU’s leaders. A free virtual learning series for CUES-member CEOs, Maximizing the CEO/Board Relationship, is underway, with the next sessions taking place Dec. 6 and Feb. 21.

In addition, CUES Symposium: A CEO/Chairman Exchange—a unique event for aligning CEO- chair pairs—will take place Jan. 28-Feb. 1. It features formal learning sessions in the morning and optional afternoon/evening events for forging the CEO/chair bond.

I hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities to align your leadership and take your team all the way to the championship. Let me know how it helps you find success in strengthening your CU and better serving members.

John Pembroke is president/CEO of CUES. Since joining CUES in May 2013 as chief operating officer, he has helped launch a new direction in CUES’ strategy, branding and culture. Pembroke has more than 20 years of experience in branding and financial services. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and is a member of the board of the Goodman Community Center, Madison, Wis.

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Keywords

Leadership