Leadership Team Development: Elevating Credit Unions' Daily Operations

Three ways credit union understandings and practices have changed.

 
 

The unique team learning approach Callahan has developed for Leadership Team Development (LTD) is helping credit unions transform the way they do business.  Twelve to 18 months after they have completed the LTD Team Learning course Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen, clients are sharing anecdotes and examples with us of how the experience continues to have meaningful impact on their credit unions.

Disruptive Strategy, offered in collaboration with HBX, Harvard Business School’s innovative online learning initiative, approaches professional development from a team dynamics perspective. LTD is designed for teams to learn together, rather than as individual professionals. Key learnings include how to: avoid disruption, create new growth opportunities, and adopt a common language for framing problems and creating solutions.

In every healthy organization, leaders and their teams exchange ideas about what matters and how to accomplish it. But the English language is nuanced. The same words can mean different things to different people depending on their generation, background, and professional experience. As a result, leaders too often think their team is in alignment only to discover they’re using the same key words in different ways or have different perspectives about what specific terminology means. These misalignments waste time, money, and goodwill, and can even destroy initiatives. 

Our LTD clients don’t suffer from these issues anymore. LTD helps them learn as a team to use a common language for discussing strategy. These skills are then practiced and applied in Callahan-facilitated webinars designed specifically for credit unions. The webinars help leadership teams listen and speak more carefully and understand each other more quickly, consistently, and actionably than before they took the course. That produces better decisions that are more broadly supported and effectively implemented, leading to greater real world successes.

The organizational structures and processes introduced in Disruptive Strategy and honed through the Callahan-led webinars pay long-term dividends. Clients have noted three particular areas where their understandings and practices have changed:

  • They commit more time and resources to getting out of the office and into the community, allowing them to better understand how their institutions are perceived, how they add value, and how their member-owners use (and depend on) their services. For several clients, this has driven a wholesale reassessment of product sets as well as the product and service development process.
  • They’re rethinking their internal resource allocation process to reflect Professor Christensen’s research findings. As a result, they are better at adjusting for the normal dynamics that too often impede efficient and consistent usage of member-owned resources. A resource allocation process that is fully aligned with organizational values, the strategic vision, and the needs of member-owners delivers a measurable improvement in outcomes.
  • LTD allows credit unions to better understand the process and key elements of successful innovation. Christensen’s work shows that as a task, goal, or program, innovation fails to deliver on its promises.  Successful innovation is an organizational and cultural phenomenon dependent on an “emergent mindset” of aggressive creativity and flexibility. Learning to balance this with the traditional commitment to improvement in quality and efficiency is what separates successful institutions from mere survivors. The default to steady but incremental improvement across all fronts may drive today’s success, but almost guarantees that tomorrow’s opportunities will be missed.

As more and more credit unions participate in Disruptive Strategy and other unique and beneficial Leadership Team Development programs, they’re discovering that the lessons learned can help  maximize their real-world successes. By working (and speaking) more effectively as a team, utilizing a common framework, considering the critical member-owner perspective, and prioritizing strategy  and  innovation, LTD is elevating the way credit unions do business.