Are You Ready To Be The Vince Lombardi Of Your Credit Union?

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You are the coach of your credit union. While this may seem like an overly simplistic analogy, the statement is true. Your effectiveness as a leader is directly related to you believing your role as a coach and subsequently understanding your coaching responsibilities.

The culture of American business has been influenced by sports and its leaders–coaches like the Green Bay Packers’ Vince Lombardi, UCLA’s John Wooden and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt.

The sports imprint on corporate management strategy has been a constant for decades. Consider the “coaching” role you play as an executive by first examining the job of a youth baseball coach.

He or she selects the players, grooms the field, teaches fundamentals, talks to parents, motivates players, and keeps a cool disposition with umpires.

Compare that to your role: hire employees, appoint the lobby, instruct tellers and lenders, engage with members, challenge the management team, and bite your tongue with regulators. There are a few similarities, wouldn’t you say?

Coaches Do Three Things

In the bigger scheme of things, coaches do three things: they teach, they motivate, and they get a commitment from their players.

Think of your role as the executive:

Teaching? “Perhaps not everyday, but more often than I thought,” you might say.

Motivating? “Some days better than others.”

And getting a commitment from your staff? “It’s more continuous, kind of a subtle reaffirming. So yes, I never really thought of it this way, but I guess I am a coach.

You should also ask yourself this question: “How do I make believers out of my players, i.e. out of my management team?” First and foremost, you must take your role as a coach seriously.

Consider this example: Jim has a service business; he is the sole owner with eight professional employees. Jim thought his role was to give them an office, keep the lights on over their heads, and stay out of the way while they made money for him. And it worked for many years, except recently a key employee, Steve, started giving him problems.

His productivity declined, he had personal problems, and Jim had no answers, until he discussed the issue with a business consultant.

The consultant convinced Jim that as the executive, he had to do more than just make sure everyone showed up for work.

He had to become and be the coach, which meant he had to engage every employee in a meaningful way about their professional development.

Once he came to believe in his role, all of the employees took notice. They liked his new approach and everyone’s productivity improved, especially Steve’s. Steve did a 180-degree turnaround and even his personal problems seemed to diminish.

What happened?

Jim realized how much his employees needed a coach, someone to take an interest in their growth as a person and as a professional. In fact, this is one reason coaching for executives has become so widespread.

Effective Communication

So now that you are a believer, consider the best way to convey your message and create the best atmosphere for effective communication.

And to do that, simply answer these questions:

* What is the best atmosphere for your employees to grow?

* What part does communication play in this? As the coach, your job is to insure the environment is accessible to everyone, and that there is top-down and bottom-up, two-way communication.

In a recent New York Times article, one successful Wall Street firm attributed “much of their success to smart people and a relatively flat hierarchy that encourages executives to challenge one another. As a result, good ideas get to the top.”

Every team needs a coach who’s engaged with the team, and not merely a role model. Understanding the dynamics of this position and acting on it defines the successful coach and facilitates the ability to be the ultimate communicator.

Ron Schmidt is president of CBS Certified Public Accountants, LLC and Credit Union Business Solutions, LLC, Solon, Ohio. He can be reached at rschmidt (c) 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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