As we begin the new year, most CEOs and C-suite executives are thinking about how to strengthen the leadership team and management to best execute on strategy. Some leaders may have the gene that inspires them to naturally keep learning about the world and how it will impact their credit union. But many don't have that gene, and it's up to CEOs and senior executives to determine how to insert that gene into people and see if they can change their behaviors and begin to get seriously engaged.

If you are planning for growth, it's important that you assess the talent and capacity of your existing leadership team. Many CEOs forget this critical review process. Long-term value creation can only be sustained by a team of people that understand the importance of learning and a work ethic. Don't fall into the trap of getting too comfortable with your existing people if you really believe you have an opportunity to introduce new products and services. An example in my mind is the depth of technological understanding and its linkage to member satisfaction. Based on the speed of change, talent acquisition in this one discipline is a huge differentiator.

Some business leaders now are feeling quite invigorated from having had a transformational year in 2011. It was probably the most challenging year many have felt in business. However good things start to happen when you associate with really smart people. Intellectual energy creates an aura where particles come together and create an unbridled enthusiasm for life and business. There is absolute joy in creating energy forces through intellectual discourse that creates good business opportunities to impact both people and businesses. A critical differentiator that produces business opportunities is introducing creative thinking that stimulates innovative ideas and directions.

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