PASADENA, Calif. — Four prominent Southern California CEOsshared how they develop leaders for the industry, as well as theirown organizations, at the HRD Network's Annual Conference onFebruary 21.

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The panel included Shruti Miyashiro, CEO of $861 million OrangeCounty's Credit Union, Grace Mayo, CEO of $600 million TelesisCommunity Credit Union, Ron McDaniel, CEO of $1.2 millionCalifornia Credit Union; and Jon Hernandez, CEO/Manager of threecredit unions–yes, simultaneously: $27 million Mattel FCU, $25million CalCom FCU, and $10 million Downey FCU.

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Despite the obvious difference in size, the panel alsorepresented credit unions with different strategic plans andspecialties. Miyashiro pointed this out to the 40 or so humanresources professionals in attendance here.

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“You can't deliver leadership to your organization unless youknow how success is defined by your organization,” she said.“That's why the role of human resources must function not only asan employment and training expert, but also as a consultant whoasks the right questions.”

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Miyashiro has the leadership pedigree to back up her words,having taken over the OCCU reigns from mentor Judy McCartney, whoretired last year after 22 years as CEO.

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For most, the quest for leadership is really a quest foradvancement. However, Miyashiro said her credit union aims tocreate a culture where even career tellers are proud of theircareers, and have opportunities to display leadership.

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“Let's be honest, most of us wouldn't come back to work just forfun if we hit the $50 million lotto jackpot,” she said, “but westrive to create a culture where associates choose to work for ourorganization, because of the value they receive from the job,regardless of where they are on the organizational chart.”

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All CEOs agreed that employees must feel engaged with theircredit unions and organizational goals, and offered examples of howthey achieve the often-illusive staff connection.

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Mayo drew the most interest from the crowd when she spoke of herexperience with employee forums. Here, she brings in 20 mostlyfront-line employees each month for an informal chat session. Mayoasks questions about the quality and quantity of support employeesreceive from management, and takes extensive notes.

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During her15 years with the program, Mayo has developed a numberof ways to keep the experience positive, like the courtesy rulesthat govern each session.

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Mayo said she's also learned to focus HR resources on middle andtop performers, rather than problem employees.

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“In order to really groom leaders, you must have an organizationthat lives and breathes that culture, where you demonstrate howmuch you value your best employees,” she said. Ultimately, the goalis to clone the good employees by rewarding their behavior, ratherthan focusing on the 20% who, as Mayo said, “don't get it, andcould care less if they did.”

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Hernandez, who rushes between his three credit unions like aproverbial plate spinner, has still managed to find the time togroom and launch three new CEOs himself. Hernandez asserted that itis possible for time-challenged managers of small credit unions tofind the time and budget for leadership development activities,with or without the aid of an HR department.

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“I really encourage CUNA Management School, which is a realchallenge for small credit unions, because when you have a five-manshop and lose one, that's 20% of your workforce,” he said.

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How does he do it? True employee empowerment, which Hernandezsaid is practically required to effectively run a small creditunion. The CEO delegates important projects like new productimplementation and 5300 report preparation, which not only engagesemployees, but also frees up Hernandez so he can focus onbig-picture topics like organizational culture.

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Daniel added the importance of using leadership as a screeningmechanism during the recruitment process, saying, “You can't makegood leaders out of bad hires.”

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“Hire not only for the particular position, but also askyourself, does that future employee have the potential to move upat least one more step?” Daniel said. “That train of thought willprobably will get you a better employee. There are certainly otherthings to consider beyond just technical skills, and those softskills are hard to evaluate, but they separate the 8 to 5ers fromthe true leaders.”

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Daniel added that public speaking is essential for leaders, andadvocated developing career plans for employees that include publicspeaking training and opportunities.

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