BY MICHAEL G. WINSTON, PH.D.
Your credit union’s leadership is the lynchpin to its overall success. But how do you build leadership in the wake of the financial services sector’s tarnished reputation? These three best-in-class strategies will lay the firm leadership foundation your CU needs to thrive.
High-performing organizations in all business sectors recruit talented individuals and place them in focused, driven teams. They let these individuals’ skills, drive, intelligence and creativity rise to the surface. They train them, challenge them and focus them on rewarding challenges and opportunities. They give them the place, space, knowledge and opportunity to excel. By doing so, the talents of these newly acquired team members can shine through, and the company develops its next generation of leaders.
The best leaders have a sense for who is the right fit for the company and who will succeed. They have a proven track record for bringing in the right talent and helping these individuals develop. They have a way of leveling the playing field and helping everyone feel like s/he has a seat at the table.
In the late 1990s and beyond, prompted by a McKinsey study on the “War for Talent,” vision statements were revised to emphasize acquiring and developing human capital. Initial commitment appeared particularly strong in the financial services sector.
Over time, however, as a challenging business climate lingered, these promises were not kept in many organizations in and out of financial services. Company after company reacted to short-term pressures by pushing the “pause” button on development of human capital. One hardly heard about the “War for Talent” any longer.
There are significant lessons to be learned from the recent decade-long economic downturn. Those companies that invested in their human capital typically outperformed the field. The other companies allowed themselves to be diverted. They focused on trying not to lose, which is wholly different from trying to win. Those firms have more ground to cover now.
In good times and bad, there has always been, and will always be, a War for Talent. You cannot have a great company unless you have great leaders in that company. And the best leaders have a deep commitment to building leadership talent throughout the organization. This is regarded as an obligation and a privilege.