LAS VEGAS — What good would offering members a new app for their mobile phones or building a stronger social media presence do if there is a crumbling wall of trust between a CEO and employees? Credit unions continue to be reminded that survival for many of them means earning more income while reducing operating costs. And CUSOs can be the driving force to help fend off extinction.
“If your credit union wants to survive, it needs to leverage the power of collaboration now,” Antonini urged. “The cost and consequences of not changing will far exceed the cost of change.”
But what would it matter if there is a lack of trust within an organization, especially from the senior level? And for all of the innovation that credit unions are warned to embrace or get left behind, are the fundamentals parked on the bottom shelf collecting dust?
For all of his accolades and record-breaking stats collected over his 16-year career, NFL legend Joe Montana isn’t convinced that organizations need to always look to catch on to the latest and greatest innovation. The first step is as easy as looking within, he added.
“The way you prepare for work is asking, ‘what can we do to make our organization better?’” said Montana, the keynote speaker at NACUSO’s conference. “When you look at organizations, the ones with the strong fundamentals are the strongest.”
Montana took the audience back to his childhood, recalling his love of many sports – basketball was his favorite – and practicing with his father, who didn’t play any sports but had a love for them. One day while playing basketball with his dad,Montanadiscovered he would make the shot every single time from a certain spot on the court. His confidence soaring, he continued to stay in that spot. His father, however, made him play from around the court, playing him hard on defense. The lesson?
“It’s about paying attention to the little things. You never know when the little things will come back to you. When I talk about preparation, you can determine with your organization how you›re going to show your team how to do it better,” Montana said.
Since Montana talked at great length about trust and preparation, Credit Union Times asked him if during his football career, did he ever have instances where he or his teammates felt a lack of trust from the coaching staff. Montana said while there weren’t really any of those scenarios (he demurred a bit – “what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room”), he did say that if there was dissension among teammates, they would go off to the so-called “gravel pit” and try to work things out.
His response piggybacked onto another attendee’s question about dealing with different personalities and leadership styles “in the huddle.”
“We’re together so much. You know when someone is having a problem or there are any changes,” Montana said. “The one thing I never wanted anyone to see was me being nervous, so I was kind of a prankster. I had respect for [my teammates] and they had respect for me. My philosophy is what happens in the huddle, we have to help each other out. If something is wrong, you have to say something.”
Rather intentional or not, being able to establish trust became a common message during some of the sessions at NACUSO’s conference.
Beverley McClure, drew on her more than 30-year career with USAA, a San Antonio financial institution that serves members of the military, and chairwoman of the $215 million UNITED SA Federal Credit Union in San Antonio, which made the transition from USAA Federal Credit Union. She is now managing director of Endeavor Management, a Houston-based consulting firm that specializes in strategic transformations.
For her, transforming leadership trickles down to everything from being able to build customer loyalty to delivering a consistently high quality member experience. How leaders translate their expectations will clearly impact how employees respond, McClure explained.
“Trust–it’s a way of modeling behavior and aligning culture,” McClure said during her talk at the conference. “Successful leaders are zealots who are dedicated to their workforce and to their clients.”
Once everyone is on the page, then the real work can begin with listening to customers to find out what their needs and then defining and designing an experience to match their desires, McClure offered.
“You have to be the most riveting and raving fan for your customers,” she said.
During the debut of NACUSO’s Next Big Idea competition where five contestants had to pitch their ideas for product and services that would generate income and innovation for credit unions to a panel of judges and conference attendees, again, the message of trust crept in.
Will members trust that a credit union will fight for them if they fail to get the right amount of insurance coverage for an injury? Sarah Canepa Bang, CEO of shared branching network Financial Service Center Cooperative Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga,Calif., and one of the Next Big Idea contest judges, asked a contestant this question for an insurance exchange model that warned of the impact of the Affordable Care Act on small businesses.
Speaking of the controversial health care initiative, a question and answer period during an afternoon session at the NACUSO conference evoked some frustration with how it would impact credit unions. A board chairman from a New York credit union’s concerns was centered on a lack of trust towards the federal government on whether the universal coverage had really been thought threw.
During a session on mergers and acquisitions in the CUSO world, attendees were challenged to trust going outside the traditional ways of seeking new partnerships. John Dearing, managing partner and director with Capstone Strategic Inc., an acquisition assistance firm in McLean,Va., said consider trusting how the market looks rather than those companies that come knocking on the door.
“Just because you know everyone, doesn’t mean there aren’t other options,” Dearing said. “A market-driven approach addresses prospects, who are the market players and customer needs. It helps figure out who the best ones are rather than the ones presented to you.”