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What does a Credit Union CEO do?

What does a Credit Union CEO do?


As a CEO of a credit union, I get asked all the time about what I actually do. This not only comes from people outside of the industry but also from other credit unions. That’s why I decided to write a three-part series on a credit union CEO's job description, along with details on how I manage to get this all accomplished. 

The main key to making any of this successful is truly hiring the right people around you, as well as having a supportive board of directors. Beyond that, let me show and explain the first part of what a credit union CEO is responsible for and how I try to manage each individual piece. 

The credit union’s CEO, regardless of size, will serve three basic, yet broad, functions. An individual in this role will serve as the cultural leader of the organization, ensuring effective credit union operations; provide thought leadership and direction to the credit union and its staff and volunteers, as well as the greater credit union movement as a whole; and to be a civic leader who offers support and participation in the community or communities served by the credit union. 


1. Serve as the operational and culture leader of the credit union.

This first section of service as a CEO of a credit union is as your standard leader of any company. The issue I see and had to walk through personally is on the operational side. It states to be the operational leader, you NOT do all of the operations yourself. I know you’ve all heard, “If you want something done right, then do it yourself." However, if you get bogged down in the operations, then how would you ever have time to complete all of your other duties and responsibilities as a CEO? 

I had to first train my staff properly and then empower them to do the work, all the while knowing that mistakes would be made during the learning process. I also have to make myself available to all staff in order to mentor them through each and every situation. Going forward, I, along with management, have created a hiring process that enables the CEO to not get involved until the final interview. This allows for others on the management team to share their opinion on the potential hire so that the CEO has a better, more well-informed decision to make. 

The other process that I and management put together is the employee on-boarding process. This process helps get the employee completely trained for their position at a much faster pace. It also allows for all of staff to determine if that person is the right fit for the credit union and its members. 

As the culture leader of the credit union, this entails taking the board of directors’ vision, mission and values to the rest of staff and having them live it out. That means you must first have a discussion with the directors to create or renew your credit union’s statements on why you exist. From there, clear expectations must be set on the organizational culture and staff’s behavior within that culture. A very detailed strategic plan has helped our credit union by holding the responsible staff member accountable for the plan that needs to be carried out. 

For myself, in order to make sure the culture is carried out within our credit union, I hired a Chief Operations Officer who has an extensive background in motivating and empowering others. With weekly manager meetings, it gives me the opportunity to evaluate how the staff is coming along with culture, as well as telling the COO where improvements need to be made, or if any new culture changes are coming in the future. 

Stay tuned for Part 2



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