Leadership Needs Abound
The last few years have been very interesting to comment on the news and, while some things have slowed down, now is no different. Many issues from credit union management to matters in Washington continue to evolve and deserve commentary.
The modern, horizontal org charts have done wonders for giving more people a voice in the operations of their business and allowed more ideas to move uphill. At the same time, some are discovering that employing vice presidents along various verticals creates a void for successors at the top.
I understand this concern, but I also believe that leadership is leadership, whether it’s overseeing the lending program or the entire credit union. Some people have it, some people develop it and some won’t. But many of the skills employees learn on their jobs below the CEO position and in their lives that seemingly have nothing to do with, for example, a balance sheet are transferable to other, higher positions. Current leadership has the responsibility to clearly explain the credit union’s overall strategy and everyone’s part in it. Not only does it allow employees to feel a part of something, but this trains their minds to see the bigger picture.
Every CEO was a first-timer at some point. Credit unions need to be willing to take a chance, provided proper groundwork is present in a candidate’s résumé. David Hilton noted in our page 1 story that nearly all of the CEOs at credit unions over $100 million are expected to retire in the next 10 years. There’s still some time to mentor the next generation of leaders, so don’t miss out. Executive development of employees should be a part of every credit union’s strategic plan.
On the NCUA front, the administration has not yet received a hearing for Carla Decker as its nominee to replace Gigi Hyland on the NCUA board. There are a couple of roadblocks aside from negative information reported by Credit Union Times, though at least one new name for a candidate has surfaced.
It’s probable that during an election year, particularly one as contentious as 2012 is shaping up to be, Democratic appointments will be few and far between as Republicans hope to take back the White House. However, a seat on the NCUA board is not so visible as to cause too much of a flare up. On the other hand, these approvals are typically made in pairs and open seats at the better-known and more prestigious FDIC that an NCUA nominee could be paired with, as is the common practice, might make the GOP less likely to allow action. Still, the debatable recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the back of all Republicans’ minds.
It’s very possible that Hyland will maintain the seat for a good deal longer if she wishes. Former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar left the NCUA board a year beyond his six-year term, and it still took more than 18 months for the vacancy to be filled. Given all the issues before any administration, including personnel appointments, the NCUA board is not a high priority. After Debbie Matz resigned her seat in 2005 at her previous tenure, also serving beyond her term, the NCUA board was left with then-Chairman JoAnn Johnson as the sole board member.
In other news, board assessments were of such interest at the recent volunteer institute (see coverage, pages 6-7) the session attracted half or more of the total attendees during a time slot when two other sessions were taking place. A repeat of the session later in the day attracted nearly as many. Volunteer comments and questions on performing board assessments were diverse and constant throughout the session.
The high attendance was a good sign, but what really struck me was the fact that only a few in the session I attended said they performed assessments of their volunteers at all. Reasons varied from not knowing where to find good resources for an assessment to not wanting to offend.
First, I’d note that the credit union community is a cooperative one and I would imagine another credit union in a similar situation with comparable goals would share their assessment tool. The fact no one seemed to think of cooperating on something as simple as this bothered me. There are also several resources from the trade associations to vendors that can provide this type of information. Anything can be a starting point if a credit union really wants to perform an assessment.
Additionally, it’s very important for everyone in life to be able to take constructive criticism. Who is against self-improvement? As long as the process is respectful and results treated with dignity, if some volunteers are afraid of or don’t like the results, that should not be the credit union’s problem. If boards do not assess where they are, it’s difficult to determine how to move the board or the institution forward. That is, after all, the board’s duty.