PASADENA, Calif. -- Four prominent Southern California CEOs shared how they develop leaders for the industry, as well as their own organizations, at the HRD Network's Annual Conference on February 21.
The panel included Shruti Miyashiro, CEO of $861 million Orange County's Credit Union, Grace Mayo, CEO of $600 million Telesis Community Credit Union, Ron McDaniel, CEO of $1.2 million California Credit Union; and Jon Hernandez, CEO/Manager of three credit unions--yes, simultaneously: $27 million Mattel FCU, $25 million CalCom FCU, and $10 million Downey FCU.
Despite the obvious difference in size, the panel also represented credit unions with different strategic plans and specialties. Miyashiro pointed this out to the 40 or so human resources professionals in attendance here.
"You can't deliver leadership to your organization unless you know how success is defined by your organization," she said. "That's why the role of human resources must function not only as an employment and training expert, but also as a consultant who asks the right questions."
Miyashiro has the leadership pedigree to back up her words, having taken over the OCCU reigns from mentor Judy McCartney, who retired last year after 22 years as CEO.
For most, the quest for leadership is really a quest for advancement. However, Miyashiro said her credit union aims to create a culture where even career tellers are proud of their careers, and have opportunities to display leadership.
"Let's be honest, most of us wouldn't come back to work just for fun if we hit the $50 million lotto jackpot," she said, "but we strive to create a culture where associates choose to work for our organization, because of the value they receive from the job, regardless of where they are on the organizational chart."
All CEOs agreed that employees must feel engaged with their credit unions and organizational goals, and offered examples of how they achieve the often-illusive staff connection.
Mayo drew the most interest from the crowd when she spoke of her experience with employee forums. Here, she brings in 20 mostly front-line employees each month for an informal chat session. Mayo asks questions about the quality and quantity of support employees receive from management, and takes extensive notes.
During her15 years with the program, Mayo has developed a number of ways to keep the experience positive, like the courtesy rules that govern each session.
Mayo said she's also learned to focus HR resources on middle and top performers, rather than problem employees.
"In order to really groom leaders, you must have an organization that lives and breathes that culture, where you demonstrate how much you value your best employees," she said. Ultimately, the goal is to clone the good employees by rewarding their behavior, rather than focusing on the 20% who, as Mayo said, "don't get it, and could care less if they did."
Hernandez, who rushes between his three credit unions like a proverbial plate spinner, has still managed to find the time to groom and launch three new CEOs himself. Hernandez asserted that it is possible for time-challenged managers of small credit unions to find the time and budget for leadership development activities, with or without the aid of an HR department.
"I really encourage CUNA Management School, which is a real challenge for small credit unions, because when you have a five-man shop and lose one, that's 20% of your workforce," he said.
How does he do it? True employee empowerment, which Hernandez said is practically required to effectively run a small credit union. The CEO delegates important projects like new product implementation and 5300 report preparation, which not only engages employees, but also frees up Hernandez so he can focus on big-picture topics like organizational culture.
Daniel added the importance of using leadership as a screening mechanism during the recruitment process, saying, "You can't make good leaders out of bad hires."
"Hire not only for the particular position, but also ask yourself, does that future employee have the potential to move up at least one more step?" Daniel said. "That train of thought will probably will get you a better employee. There are certainly other things to consider beyond just technical skills, and those soft skills are hard to evaluate, but they separate the 8 to 5ers from the true leaders."
Daniel added that public speaking is essential for leaders, and advocated developing career plans for employees that include public speaking training and opportunities.