The Importance of Developing Strong Leaders in Credit Unions

Mark Arnold
The Importance of Developing Strong Leaders in Credit Unions

Succession planning is one of the most pressing issues for today’s credit unions. Too many have aging executives and board members without skilled people ready to take control once the current leadership cadre leaves. This situation leads to two results (neither of them good):

  1. Inexperienced leaders take over, leading the credit union backwards.
  2. The credit union ceases to exist, since it has no identity without long-time leaders.

Luckily, your credit union doesn’t need to experience either of these fates!

If you’re familiar with this blog, you already know John Maxwell. He has a huge amount of leadership wisdom, all of it relevant to credit union leadership training. Let’s examine some of his best quotes to discover what it takes to develop strong credit union leaders who will be ready to take over once you’re gone.


“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”


A leader isn’t someone who sits around an office barking out orders. That’s a boss. A leader uses their example to influence others. 

They have the knowledge, the will to do what they ask of others and the eagerness to mentor their followers. You definitely have the knowledge. Do you have the other two elements?

If the answer’s no, it’s time to start practicing! 

Show your staff you have the dedication to understand their daily struggles. Empathize with them and even help them out where you can. Then, give them ways to improve.

As it relates to succession planning specifically, choose your top candidates and mentor them. Make sure they spend time with you – watching you work, asking you questions and even performing some of your tasks. Take time weekly to pour your years of experience into them.

Use these credit union leadership training techniques to show them the way. Then, they can pave the way forward for the credit union.


“Successful people have discovered what they’re good at. Successful leaders discover what other people are good at.”


A key part of preparing future leaders is delegating. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s phrase it another way: releasing control.

It’s a little harder now. You’re a great CEO, CFO, Marketing Director or Branch Manager. You already know you’re good at your role. Someone else would just mess it up. 

But who has interest or natural talent? Who could be just as good as you with some credit union leadership training?

Other people’s strengths are an opportunity, not a threat. You must release control and turn a discerning eye toward those underneath you on the totem pole. Discover who is good at what you do and give them ever increasing levels of responsibility.


“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”


The point of leading your credit union isn’t the title or the salary. It’s what you do for your members and your community. You live this out every day as an executive or board member.

And it’s just as important to find others who will live this out as well.  

Skillsets matter, but look past skillsets. Why does your leadership candidate work in a credit union? The answer needs to be: to impact the lives of others.

Recently, a Michigan credit union CFO embezzled $20 million from the institution. Unfortunately, you read many similar stories every day about people clearly in it for the wrong reasons.

Find people of character. Make your credit union leadership training a process that instills purpose, not just technical abilities.

Lead a credit union that outlasts you, and don’t wait to do it. Implement the best credit union leadership training program possible when you book a free consultation to discuss leadership training with On The Mark Strategies.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO