From John: Do You Have Alignment Among Your Leaders?

many hands with thumbs up but one thumbs down 
John Pembroke Photo

2 minutes

CUES’ new governance report shows a surprising gap between credit union senior staffers and the board.

The fact that director-level leaders and senior staff at credit unions had different perceptions of governance was evident throughout the research done for The State of CU Governance, 2018, a new report CUES published Wednesday.

“It surprised even us, and it should definitely concern you,” write the report authors, Michael G. Daigneault, CCD, and Jennie Boden, of CUES strategic partner Quantum Governance, Vienna, Va. “If we know one thing, it’s this: Gaps between the board and senior staff will eventually become destructive.”  

Notable among the different perceptions between board level and staff leaders was that while 53 percent of supervisory committee members and 44 percent of board members reported their boards were very effective at “building a culture of trust,” just 27 percent of senior staff and 25 percent of CEOs said this was true at their credit unions. 

Here are two key recommendations from the report for credit unions that want to close the gap:

  1. Make good governance a priority at your credit union. You can up your governance game by doing an assessment of individual directors or the whole board. You will also find help when you attend quality governance education programs, such as CUES Governance Leadership Institute™ (this year in Miami as well as Toronto) and the CUES director seminars.  
  2. Work to address any gaps between board-level leaders and staff. CUES’ Center for Credit Union Board Excellence features a section about CEO/Board Relations, including a recent article—“Person to Person: Cultivating CEO-Director Relationships”—by CUES member Chris Shockley, president/CEO of $3.1 billion Virginia Credit Union, Richmond, Va. Of course, CUES Symposium: A CEO/Chairman Exchange—coming up later this month—is specifically designed to strengthen the bond between CUs’ two top leaders.  

If you haven’t been taking governance seriously at your credit union in 2017, make 2018 the year to turn things around. And if your governance is already on a good keel, ask yourself, what does the next level look like? I look forward to hearing about your efforts.

John Pembroke is president/CEO of CUES. Since joining the organization in March 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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