A “New Normal” Requires A New Lens

Uncertainties shouldn’t dissuade an honest reflection on whether leadership teams have the right tools to tackle the tasks at hand.

 
 

I don’t know about you, but a global pandemic was not a part of my short- or long-term planning scenarios. I can’t imagine one person reading this blog who would have predicted we would be dealing with the decisions, stresses, heartaches, and anxieties — on both the personal and professional levels — that we are today. 

That said, I believe credit unions were built for this moment. 

Credit unions helped Americans rise from the ashes of the Great Depression. They have been there for stakeholders during natural disasters and recessions. They’ve helped members weather financial storms big and small. Serving members is why credit unions exist, but I think it’s fair to say credit union leaders will need new tools in their toolbox to address the unprecedented decisions they’ll all be called to make. 

In times of uncertainty, members look to their financial cooperative to help them navigate uncharted financial waters, and credit union leaders need a purpose-driven lens to make unprecedented decisions that will impact employees, members, and communities. Your credit union’s purpose goes deeper than just your mission statement. It’s your North Star. The reason your organization exists. The litmus test for living up to your charter. 

Research shows organizations that lead with purpose — those that truly put purpose at the forefront of every decision, at every level — do better financially and are able to hire and retain better talent. In short, these organizations win through purpose. Yet, it’s not just the organization that wins. So does its stakeholders. For your credit union, that includes your members, your employees, and your communities. Couldn’t we all use a situation in which we all win right about now? 

Leaders face many challenges even during the most mundane environment. Throwing in several factors of uncertainty intensifies the pressure, but that shouldn’t dissuade an honest reflection on whether your leadership team has the right tools to address the tasks at hand. Admittedly, it’s difficult to pause for self-reflection and tools assessment in the middle of a crisis management scenario — and I say managing a global pandemic is the textbook definition of “crisis” — but that’s exactly what I challenge you to do. Are you confident every decision-maker within your credit union has the tools they need to make purpose-based decisions? Are they informed and empowered to make purpose-based decisions in the moment?

In times of uncertainty, credit union leaders need a purpose-driven lens to make unprecedented decisions that will impact employees, members, and communities.

Katy Slater, SVP, Callahan & Associates

These are tough questions to address. Here are a few more to help you assess your credit union’s purpose mindset.

  • Do you have mid-level managers or purpose-driven leaders? Your mid-level managers are the key to inspiring a committed workforce. They have earned the trust of those below them and the ear of those above them. They are an ideal conduit for infusing purpose throughout your organization, but they can only accomplish this goal if they are informed and empowered to do so.
  • Have you connected your People to your Purpose? Once executives and middle-level leaders have fully embraced the credit union’s purpose, the next step is to help front-line staff connect their day-to-day tasks with it. This connection will ensure the credit union’s purpose permeates its culture.  
  • Have you committed to accelerate individual learning? Leaders who embrace a higher purpose recognize professional development is a powerful motivator. Investing in a person’s professional growth shows faith in that person’s potential and sends the message that it takes a fully committed team to achieve the organization’s goals. What’s more, it is expected that the collective team work together to fulfill the authentic purpose. 

I’ve heard some say we are at a generation-defining moment. I think that’s true. Credit unions will be balancing the needs of members with the long-term sustainability of the organization. I believe now more than ever, it is imperative credit union leaders have a purpose-driven lens through which to identify innovative solutions that address the unprecedented financial needs of stakeholders and make decisions about how to spend capital in new and, perhaps, scary ways. 

The challenges we face today might be unprecedented, but I strongly believe the credit union movement’s response, if anchored by purpose, will also be unprecedented. Together, we’ve got this! 

Now Is The Time To Lead With Purpose

Members are looking for their financial cooperatives to help them navigate these uncharted financial waters and credit union leaders need a purpose-driven lens to help make unprecedented decisions.

Leading with Purpose is a 100% virtual learning experience that brings together best in class content from Harvard Business School Online, Callahan’s 35+ years of industry perspective and knowledge with unparalleled collaboration with other credit union professionals – to deliver this timely and imperative knowledge.

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