WHAT DOES A CREDIT UNION CEO DO? PART 3 OF 3
This is the last part of my series that will finally bring everything together and answer the questions I receive all the time on what it is I do. The focus on the finale is the whole reason credit unions exist. Yes, credit unions are here for “People helping people”, but if you aren’t engaged in the community you serve in, then my question is, how are you going to find people to help?
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.
3. SERVE AS A CIVIC LEADER ENGAGED IN THE COMMUNITY/COMMUNITIES SERVED BY THE CREDIT UNION.
First, becoming a civic leader within your local community does take time and patience. I would say this has been the biggest struggle for me in the three roles that I am responsible for. I put my family before my career, so being a civic leader for me is a balancing act with time between the two. Luckily, I have found many ways to serve that are during business hours, which makes it easier. As for the patience involved, you can’t go into these organizations thinking that business will boom quickly just because you are there. Most potential members don’t know they need you until an event comes up in their lives. If you’ve been around them consistently, then when the situation arises, they will simply come to you for help. This takes time and people want to know that you are here for the long haul, not just a fly by night business.
The other challenge within being a civic leader is being a smaller credit union. In a smaller shop, every employee wears many different hats, including the CEO. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the key here is hiring the right people around you. Then, the challenge becomes delegating tasks to others. Most CEOs, like myself, have been with the organization for years and hold on to certain tasks and jobs that they need to let go of. Doing this, however, will create more time to become the CEO that you need to be.
Finally, I wanted to share some civic-minded organizations that I currently serve in. I am involved in the local chamber of commerce, local nonprofits, schools, and sporting events. The chamber allows me to connect with other local business owners and to get updates on the local communities that surround us. The local nonprofits allow myself and the staff to serve the people of the community in a variety of ways. Through the local schools, they have allowed the credit union to come in and teach financial literacy, as well as donating to the student of the month awards on a regular basis. Last, but not least, the sporting events have allowed me to simply be seen and meet new people. Football is huge in our local communities so just being there shows that the credit union supports them. In my opinion, the whole point in serving in these organizations is to be visible to the public. This will lead to opportunities over time to help grow the local community.