There are many things credit union and banking executives must do. But are they the right things? Our plates are so full. We tend to run from crisis to crisis or project to project. That is no way to lead a financial institution.
Rather than working in the credit union or bank we need to work on the credit union or bank. So what actions should executives take? Here are four:
- Think—Most executives are not taking time to think. During a recent leadership workshop with a client, I suggested that each of their executives take at least an hour a week (preferably two) to do nothing but think about their financial institution: its goals, strategies, growth, etc. Close the door. Turn off the phone. Shut down e-mail. Just think. You don’t even have to do your thinking in your office. Go to Starbucks, take a walk, visit a park. Spend time thinking about your bank or credit union. You might be the only one who is.
- Listen—One of the challenges we face as our career grows is that the higher we move up the organizational chart, the farther away from consumers we get. When we were tellers, loan officers, member or customer service representatives we saw consumers every day. We were forced to listen what was happening in their lives and what was important to them. One of the traps with leading a financial institution is we can become to far removed from the very people we are trying to help. When walking through your branches stop and talk with customers/members. Answer some call center phone calls (that will give you an earful!). It’s easy to bark orders as executive; but it’s more important to listen.
- Develop—As John Maxwell says, “leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit.” The best way to grow your financial institution is to grow your people. We can focus on loans, checking accounts, and deposit products. While those are obviously important, it’s your staff that will determine how well you reach your target audiences with your products. Developing your people requires intentionality. Do a book study. Send them to a conference. Watch a webinar. Conduct a sales, branding or leadership training workshop. You will never regret the time you spend developing those who work for you.
- Inspire—Why are your employees following you? It is because you are a boss or because you are leader? As a leader, you must inspire your people. Motivate them to greatness. You can’t inspire if you are not spending time with them. Get away from your desk and visit the branches. Take a walk to the accounting department. Sit down and talk with tellers. Don’t forget that classic saying, “people don’t care how much know until they know how much you care.” The better you serve your employees the better they will serve your consumers.
Those are four of the most important actions credit union and bank executives should take. If you focus on those things your financial institution will grow. Are there other others you would add to the list?