Chris Leggett On Leadership

The CEO of LGE Community Credit Union talks mentors, teams, and putting members first.

 
 

When Chris Leggett became CEO of LGE Community Credit Union ($1.3B, Marietta, GA) in 2009, he already had an intricate knowledge of the industry and an appreciation for its philosophy. Leggett first learned about credit unions as a teenager and has dedicated nearly three decades of his career to financial cooperatives. Here, he talks about mentors, team members, and — most importantly — putting members first.

Chris Leggett, CEO, LGE Community Credit Union

On joining the credit union industry …

When I was 18 years old, a friend’s father helped me get my first part-time job at a credit union and encouraged me to read the book, Credit Union Philosophy. That’s where it all started.

On leadership styles …

My own leadership style is collaborative. Input from my leadership teams helps refine the vision and the key directional decisions for which I am ultimately responsible. I’m not afraid to take a chance or go against the grain if I feel it’s necessary … or, frankly, just to provoke thoughtful discussion.

The leaders I admire share a few key traits. Namely, leaders hold others accountable and help them understand why it’s important for them and the organization. Additionally, leaders consistently make decisions for the right reasons. It might sound clichéd, but leaders find success when they do the right thing — not for themselves but for stakeholders and the organization.

 

 

 

On finding the right team …

I look for competence and ability, obviously; however, a willingness to go the extra mile without prompting is critical at a senior level. Sometimes team members must make sacrifices or pursue additional education and training, but successful team members make the extra effort.

CU QUICK FACTS

LGE Community Credit Union
Data as of 09.30.18

HQ: Marietta, GA
ASSETS: $1.3B
MEMBERS: 112,496
BRANCHES: 11
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 4.5%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 5.9%
ROA: 1.07%

I also look for team members who seek input from others. No one knows everything, and we shouldn’t pretend to.

Most importantly, the right team consists of those who understand our mission. We’re here to serve our members first and foremost. That ought to drive everything we do and every decision we make.

On finding inspiration …

I’m a markets enthusiast and a bit of an economics geek. I like to keep up with what’s going on in the financial markets and how they impact our country and the world.

I love to play golf with friends. And, I’m inspired by my two active 17-year-old boys, who are seniors in high school. I attend everything I can for them; I can’t wait to see where they’ll go with their lives. I also like to bounce things off my wife, Tara. Her down-to-earth perspective helps me every day.

On leading his credit union …

My former boss and mentor, Larry Kirkman, told me a long time ago that slow and steady progress is the best course of action. Credit unions shouldn’t get caught up in the same types of manic exercises that for-profit companies pursue. We’re here to serve members. To do that, we need a business plan, a reasonable ROA, the right capital levels, efficient operations, etc. Serving members is a defendable course of action that supports the credit union philosophy.

The right team consists of those who understand our mission. We’re here to serve our members first and foremost.

Chris Leggett, CEO, LGE Community Credit Union

On what the industry needs more, or less, of  …

Collaboration among our organizations has changed quite a bit during my three decades in the industry. We’ve gotten to a point where many view only other credit unions as competitors — we keep fighting over the same 8% of the market. In the past, CEOs weren’t afraid to talk realistically about their shops and were actually glad when fellow credit unions were successful. CEOs became friends. We all need more friends and would benefit from having a bigger network for advice.

I’d love to see less regulatory hindrance. That’s right, hindrance! It’s disappointing when regulations dealing with practices at for-profit banks trickle down to community cooperatives that are trying to put members first. We are not banks and should not be regulated as such. Regulators more and more regulate through opinion and appearance, not facts. These regulations impede us from serving members effectively, aren’t healthy for our organizations, and, ultimately, don’t benefit consumers.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. Read More Today.

 

Jan. 1, 2019


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