What makes a great credit union CEO? The answer is not as simple as you might think – it’s not just about having the right skill set or experience. As with any business, a CEO has to have the necessary technical expertise and understanding of the business at hand. But beyond that, what really sets them apart from their peers is another matter.
It takes an exceptional person to lead an institution that truly belongs to its members. A great credit union CEO is someone who understands that their role is not to impose their vision on an organization, but rather to solicit input from the various stakeholders within the organization and empower key players to lead in their own areas.
Ask various people what makes an effective company executive, and you’ll hear a lot of different answers. But there are two basic types of great credit union CEOs: The Great CEO and The Great Communicator.
The Great CEO is good with numbers, knows how to manage operations and has a keen sense of strategy. He or she is also a good communicator who can sell that strategy to the board and credit union members, as well as motivate employees to execute it while keeping them happy and productive.
The Great Communicator is not necessarily the financial whiz that The Great CEO can be. This type of CEO knows how to present a positive public image for the credit union, and how to promote membership growth through community involvement, social media and other channels that reach out to potential members.
Both types of leaders can be effective, but they must work with their team members in unique ways to achieve the same goals. For example, a CEO without a strong background in finance may rely on the CFO to help them guide the organization.
As you think about the best candidate for the position, consider the following attributes that make a great credit union CEO:
1. They Take Care of Their Teams
A great CEO is a good listener and makes sure their teammates are listened to as well. The best CEOs know that their team members aren’t just people they work with; they’re also people who may need guidance and help managing their positions within the organization. They are also leaders who need to be heard.
A CEO who takes care of the team will ultimately take care of the organization’s membership.
2. They Deliver on Their Members’ Needs
The best credit union CEOs understand their members’ needs – even if it means making a change in strategy that might not seem popular in the short term. If a service isn’t working for them or is not making money for the organization, it simply has to go away or undergo change.
It might not be easy, but one thing you can always count on in banking is change – especially when it comes to technology and innovation. It’s up to the CEO to lead the organization through these changes, make the tough calls and focus on what really matters.
3. They Don’t Get Caught Up in the Daily Grind
Great CEOs don’t get bogged down by the details of day-to-day operations. They use their time wisely by focusing on high-level strategy, improving outcomes and developing their team members so they can lead effectively at all levels.
4. They Embrace Risk
Being a great credit union CEO means taking risks. Leaders without risk-taking ability often settle for only incremental improvements and miss opportunities for major breakthroughs.
The good news is that these leaders have many opportunities to take risks – from launching products that provide solutions to member problems to improving operational efficiency, merging with other credit unions and more.
5. They Empower Employees to Succeed
A great credit union CEO realizes that the organization can only succeed if all employees are successful. This means setting clear expectations, then supporting and rewarding those who meet or exceed their goals.
The CEO steps in when needed to clear roadblocks or provide additional resources but otherwise gives employees the freedom to do their jobs.
6. They Are Fiscally Responsible
Credit unions are not-for-profits, which means they have to be very cautious with the money they receive from members. A great credit union CEO understands this and is careful not to waste money on frivolous programs or unnecessary expenses.
At the same time, a great CEO understands that spending money wisely is sometimes necessary for the good of the organization and won’t let false economy hamper success.
7. They Don’t Play Politics
Credit unions are member-owned cooperatives. All members have a say in how they’re run and how their money is used, and many people will want input into major decisions that affect them directly.
A great credit union CEO knows that this is part of running a cooperative and will take everyone’s opinions into account without letting politics color decision-making.
8. They Are Collaborative Board Members
Great CEOs of credit unions understand the importance of a collaborative board and know that they need to be team players as well as leaders.
Credit unions are complex financial institutions, but the one thing that makes them all different is the people who serve their members. They are not driven by profits or stock prices; instead, credit union CEOs focus on improving members’ lives and building strong communities.
A great CEO is one who understands the needs of their members and works hard to meet those needs. CEOs must be able to communicate effectively with both staff and members in order to ensure that everyone is working toward common goals.
They also need to be able to make timely decisions based on data analysis as well as their own gut instincts about what is best for the organization in both short-term and long-term situations. These skills will help them lead by example so others will want to follow suit when it comes time for change within an organization.
By understanding what makes an excellent credit union CEO, organizations can hire or promote the right individuals for the job, bringing them forward with confidence.
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