Leading a credit union into the future is tougher than ever before. That’s what my colleagues and I hear from credit union leaders daily, and it’s why Callahan & Associates created the Leadership Team Development Program and our first course — Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen — offered in collaboration with HBX, Harvard Business School’s online learning initiative.
What we’ve learned through delivering this program to scores of credit union executives over the past 18 months is that it’s really tough to lead a team of diverse, talented individuals — the kind of folks you hire if you believe in the maxim, “Always hire people smarter than you are.” What’s more, this leadership challenge is only getting bigger.
As leadership teams grow more diverse and more capable, new managers tend to bring specific expertise, not a general understanding of strategy. At a time when credit unions need to be looking several years into the future, “strategic” planning remains operational because leadership teams often lack the common language and framework that good strategy demands.
As FinTechs and other disruptors threaten, and it’s not just about beating banks anymore, credit unions need cross-functional teams to operate smoothly, effectively, and efficiently. This doesn’t happen by accident. It requires clear communications and convergent decision-making, skills that are learned over time or have to be taught and practiced.
What’s a good executive to do? Focus on the fundamentals – the RIGHT fundamentals:
Your team needs a common language and a common framework for addressing your greatest challenges. Without them, execution is a struggle and real strategy gets neglected.
Your team needs to give effective counsel to the CEO, and one another, and use that process to converge on the best decisions, not consensus. This challenges conventional wisdom about management and good office decorum, but we’ve learned that teams embracing this approach function at a higher level.
Choose your definition of success. No credit union can be all things to all potential members. Strategy is the art of deciding what not to do and getting everyone on board with that decision.
Keep your focus where it needs to be, on members. Standard business tools don’t always align well with this imperative. Properly applied, Professor Christensen’s tools do. They can be immensely powerful, offering actionable insight into how and why our members “hire” us.
Understand the greatest threat to sustainable success. Disruption is a powerful and disturbing concept, but it’s often misunderstood. Knowing how it works can help credit unions make better strategic choices.
Leadership Team Development prepares credit union executives to address strategic “disruptions” in a strategic manner and lay the groundwork for sustainable future success. Unlike more traditional learning opportunities, where select individuals go away and then try to bring lessons back to their colleagues, Leadership Team Development works with the whole team at once — as a team — so everyone learns the same things at the same time together, without ever leaving the credit union.
This isn’t the only way for a senior team to develop and employ this skillset, but we think it is the best. It’s innovative, collaborative, and credit-union-oriented, built on world class strategy development tools. Facilitated, interactive discussions let the entire team practice using these tools— together — on real issues your credit union is facing today. Upon completion, your team hits the ground running, ready to execute strategy collaboratively and effectively.
For more information or to register, visit Callahan & Associates.