Leadership Development-Does CU Size Matter?
Very good question.
If you really wants to know the nuts and bolts of a credit union then working in a small one is the best place to learn about managing. However, managing is not the same as being a leader. Leadership is about moving an organization forward and management is about making an organization perform. Management is looking inwards and Leadership is looking outwards at the horizon and possibilities.
My experience over a 30 year career was that future credit union leaders came from all quarters of the movement. That included small credit unions, medium sized, large ones and not just from the professional ranks but from volunteers as well. Additionally, many leaders emerged from various state and national level credit union trade organizations and some even came from peripheral entities such as vendors.
Leadership is a quality imbued within the individual and will surface over time regardless of any and all obstacles or any and all opportunities afforded those individuals. Credit union leaders also come into the system oftentimes from other careers such as the military; regulators or even banking!
I started my credit union career at Leeway FCU in Okla. City. I started as a staff member of six, which included the manager at that time Jim Minor.
We were $3 million in assets and almost totally manual in every thing we did. In was 1974 at that time and computers were not in use. I did every thing a credit union offered to its members and I did them every day. I did the collections, opened new accounts, took deposits and made withdrawals. Later of course I made loans and everything else that we did for members. All of us were involved in the daily offerings.
In my career I have worked for a variety of organizations, small and large. Both offer benefits and limitations that the other doesn't.
For example, in a small organization you typically have responsibility for more areas and gain wider experience in a shorter period of time, and your knowledge and experience grows quickly. However, with limited financial and human resources, that experience can also be less comprehensive than you might get in a larger organization that has fellow employees that can help with ideas from their own knowledge and experience that you can learn from.