“The Right Way to Sell to the C-Level”

January 16, 2023

Selling to the C-Level in credit unions requires a lot – industry knowledge, strategic thinking, creative ideas for success, and patience. Patience is always the most difficult element to master. But, with the right process – and routine outreach to clients and prospects – you will discover lots of opportunities to initiate, expand, and close more business. Begin by building these four perspectives into your client relationship models.

The right relationship. People, especially executives, do business with those they know, like, and trust. Executives want to be assured that you know them (at least professionally), their credit union (do your financial and credit union-specific homework), and their priorities (ask what their main areas of focus are this quarter or year). Then, begin your customizing magic.

The right product. With the right relationship, you have some attention. Attention leads to interest when your product can solve a challenge (you learned this when asking about priorities). Where does your product create profits, spur growth, or improve experiences? What tangible evidence can you share? How might a credit union’s outcomes be better with your product? Getting down to brass tacks is what the C-Level needs at this point.

The right price. The C-Level leader’s interest will lead to a meeting. Now, it’s about showing return on investment. What can a credit union expect financially? Are different prices and packages available? Can you include extras as a part of the proposal? Confident statements are key at this stage. You want to stay away from “Here’s what might happen if you don’t buy,” scenarios. This phase is about partnership and growth. Get on the same side as the C-Level and be an advocate.

The right timing. Even when return on investment is positive and obvious, timing is everything. Priorities may have shifted; resources may be deferred; executives may have moved on; markets may be in disarray; etc. We can’t control another’s decision just because the numbers are obvious. We can control their understanding that we value their relationship, want to be a partner in their credit union’s success, and will continue to present opportunities to move the credit union forward.

Any C-Level leader welcomes this kind of leadership. Often, a sale today is a result of many “right” steps along the way. As a sales leader, position yourself as fully invested in the success of the credit union. As you master these processes, your meeting, closing, and profit metrics will increase, the result of your attention to the right and best points of focus for your clients and prospects.

 © 2020 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


“Uniting Teams Around Strategy”

January 13, 2023

Frequently, the business case for strategic change is clear. The heart of the challenge is often human. The status quo and disagreement about the future can cause inaction; and, delay affects results. How does a credit union leader unite a team and create alignment toward activities necessary for first-rate execution? In reaching out to nearly 50 executives, representing credit unions of all sizes and markets, seven themes emerged that illustrate practical ways to unify teams (from the branch to the C-Suite) around strategic and operational goals.

  1. Leave your title at the door. Business initiatives are designed with the member in mind. While teams may be comprised of different departments and various levels of managers, the member matters most. A focus on the member – and not a particular department or claim – establishes a level of accountability to the most important driver of your business model.
  2. Be crystal clear about the end result. Defining and measuring success is vital for all to recognize and accept. It helps in gauging progress along the way and offers undeniable evidence of achievement or a need for continued refinement. This clarity toward an outcome helps maintain focused activity in the midst of competing priorities.
  3. Question everything. If a better way to achieve end results exists, it needs discussion. The ideas and opinions of all team members are essential, especially when determining the capability of “business as usual” to produce results necessary for success. Useful debate and deliberation – about everything – reinforces or refines processes and courses of action.  
  4. Make data-driven decisions. Personal preferences, deference to tenure, or a “gut feeling” can’t replace trends, statistics, and scenarios. Excellent research and reliable data help to remove the emotion of selections and allow for high-quality decisions. Exceptional, fact-filled choices lead to steady and dependable results, a hallmark of a high-performance team.
  5. Be willing to let go. There is much strategic value in saying, “No,” as long as the offset is full commitment to strategic areas of, “Yes.”  A closer focus helps to organize resources and motion; and, the likelihood for timely success is greater without diversion or diluted endeavors. Trade-offs are part of significant achievement and allow for greatest effect.
  6. Delineate daily inputs for success. “A three-year plan and a specific goal make for great discussion, but what do all need to accomplish today?” shared many executives tasked with securing buy-in from all parties. The most effective instrument? Taking strategy to every level and co-creating daily actions and behaviors tied to strategic initiatives and related metrics.
  7. Listen – a lot. Whether via offsites, lunches, town halls, branch visits, or an open door/inbox – feedback is necessary. It provides an opening to appreciating applied execution; it delivers a systematic flow of worthwhile information; and, it offers hands-on ideas to help enhance strategic initiatives. Listening may well be the greatest tool in an executive’s skillset.

It’s often a challenge to lead experienced, established, and emerging professionals – all on the same team. Consider incorporating these ideas for nurturing and sustaining a well-coordinated, high performance group able to achieve clear business objectives and produce at elite levels. In the end, they can improve your capability to: get people to achieve strategic results; efficiently manage competing priorities; provide focus and purpose for your credit union; and, construct a purposeful, unified, and action-oriented team.

© 2022 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


“Five Words that Guide the Most Customer-Centric Companies in the Land”

January 3, 2023

“Five Words that Guide the Most Customer-Centric Companies in the Land” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Three decades of strategic advisory to credit unions have led to comparable engagements with the Fortune 500 companies that serve as current or legacy sponsors to many credit unions. Think Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and Pfizer. Not only are the associated credit unions focused on exceptional service to employees/members, but the supporting companies are known for being among the most customer-centric companies in the country.

So, what elements of customer centricity stand out between the most customer-centric companies? Create a word cloud of terms that best describe each company’s focus for customers, and you will discover an image packed with terms of commitment to customers. However, five expressions stand out as the most common areas of emphasis among these companies highly regarded for their relentless attention to customers. Let’s explore.

Customer. For our sake, let’s switch and use the term, “member.” Members are the foundation, the solid footing of credit unions. No members, no deposits. No deposits, no loans. No loans, no income. You get the picture. Members drive everything. Place the utmost value on those who choose your credit union. And ensure every staff member, every day, appreciates the value of members. As a poster in the training room of a New Jersey credit union reads, “If we don’t take care of the member, someone else will.”

Experience. Quite simply, this is the feeling members sense as they interact with your credit union – in person, on a mobile device, via the contact center, in your marketing messages, through community involvement, etc. Experiences drive a member’s desire and decision to continue using your credit union, buy or borrow again, and be an excellent referral source. Create experiences that leave no choice but for members to return.

Service. A byproduct of being relentlessly attentive to customers, service is the ultimate driver of sales. These companies understand that marketing creates awareness, but outstanding service will drive a consumer’s willingness to continue listening and absorbing messages about the benefits of various products and services. “Serve first, sell second” is a common saying among these companies. Tend to the exact needs of your members and you will earn the opportunity to inform, consult, and ultimately sell. Service leads to sales.

Data. One size does not fit all, and customization is key when executing plans for customer- and member-centricity. Capturing, organizing, and learning from member data help your credit union market more efficiently, serve more personally, and create a one-to-one experience every time. It’s the ability to continue serving one member at a time in a world where bigger can often overshadow the importance of continuing to get better. Use data wisely to continue this tradition.

Employee. As much as technology allows you to grow, deliver, and serve – all at scale – the true leaders of member-centricity are employees. Some staff members directly engage with members and others serve behind the scenes. Regardless of role, every employee ultimately contributes to member success. Deliver this message throughout your credit union. It is the difference between companies known and admired for customer-centricity and those who are not. Member-centricity as a strategy and pillar of culture help to steer your credit union away from the risk of commoditization.

It’s wise to learn how other credit unions serve members in a desire to become more member centric. But, members are also consumers using countless products and services from numerous customer-centric companies. As you commit to keeping members at the forefront of strategy and operations, consider how other companies do the same. The lessons you learn in and out of the industry can reveal new and enhanced ways to maintain a persistent concentration on members, building notable mind, wallet, and market share for your credit union.

© 2022 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


March 14, 2022

How Great Boards Deliver Great Value for their Credit Unions

“How Great Boards Deliver Great Value for their Credit Unions” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Great boards have great dynamics among their fellow members. Contemporary research points to a parallel between successful board dynamics and overall value for a credit union. Further, through hundreds of recent interviews, most directors questioned indicated that great boards are a significant part of credit union success.

What makes a credit union board move from good to great? Dynamics, and meticulous attention to the details involved. The devil is in the dynamics. How does a credit union board refocus its execution regarding dynamics? Culture, capacity, and its Chair.

Culture. Boards are valuable teams with established social relationships. Often times, the camaraderie between board members is greater than a board full of high-quality directors, but void of partnership. The social nature of a board increases a board’s effectiveness as it looks to lead, as a team, in an ongoing manner rather than only at the monthly meeting. Many board experts have noted that boards functioning as a team are an increased predictor of positive credit union performance.

A culture built on sincerity, relevant expectations, and a mutual partnership with the CEO sets the basis for constructive dynamics. Creating an environment of unguarded and authentic communication heightens a director’s capability to ask management independent questions, examine traditions, and rightly harness the value of the board to the credit union. The board must welcome that it represents the owners of the credit union and is entrusted with ensuring the credit union’s ongoing success on behalf of all owners.

Capacity. As the skillsets required of board members increase, continuing to acquire and develop expertise is important. Current and future board members should acquire and continue to refine their levels of business acumen, matching the credit union’s vision and business model. Board members who adapt with their credit union can help fuel substantial conversations and assist the board in avoiding groupthink.

Capacity also goes past advancing business skills. Committing to engagement, regardless of tenure, helps to institute how well board members cooperate. At its last planning session, one credit union’s newest board member shyly “asked a silly question.” The full board encouraged a deeper discussion of the “silly question.” In the end, that commitment to full engagement led to a significant shift in the credit union’s plans for expansion, the result of a now very “prudent” question.

Chair. Board dynamics are continually intricate, just like the credit union. Thorough leadership of dynamics is central to growth and perpetuation of a great board. Board dynamics require stout leadership from an active chair who pays close attention to relationships, board education, and individual board member commitment.

The chair should help to guide effective relationships at the board level and in communicating the position of the board to the CEO. Most important, the chair should ensure that all parties – governance and executive – find consensus and commitment on and toward the credit union’s goals and strategies. When the board’s vision is aligned with management’s strategies and execution, both parties’ dynamics are at a highly functioning level.

Maintaining productive board dynamics is a practice, not a one-time assignment. Good dynamics help develop the effectiveness of every individual and the finer points of the board. How does your Board measure up, and how might you enhance its culture, capacity, and leadership from its Chair?

© 2021 by Jeff Rendel. All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy. Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


Digital Transformation – The Next Leadership Skill

June 15, 2021

“Digital Transformation – The Next Leadership Skill” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

For many credit unions, digital transformation is at or near the top of their strategic plans. While the events of 2020 fast-tracked strategies for digital transformation, adoption and execution have been in the works throughout the industry for several years. Of equal interest is the next set of skills required to lead digital transformation at all levels. Lending, operations, and finance still act as the mainstay of must-have skills, but technological and digital proficiency are neck-and-neck in the race for next level competencies.

As an example, look to how roles have expanded in digital emphasis across your organization. For the Chief Lending Officer, automated underwriting, decision-making, and execution drive lending practices. For the Chief Operating Officer, one-to-one member service is most likely to occur via telephone, chat, or video feed through an offsite contact center. For the Chief Marketing Officer, promotion is targeted, digital in delivery, and driven by data. For the Chief Information Officer, creating connections between technology and the full enterprise is a requirement. For the Chief Financial Officer, automation, streamlining, costs, benefits, and revenue generation are increasingly larger parts of every initiative. For the Chief Executive Officer, conveying the argument for digital transformation and fostering a forward-thinking culture that makes data-driven decisions and maximizes the use of digital platforms reinforces the need for a shift in focus as professionals. Even the Board should consider digital transformation as part of its leadership focus, ensuring that long-term innovation and investment are active parts of strategy.

So, what can a credit union professional implement to develop her or his digital transformation skill set?

  • Be curious, confident, and motivated. As a leader, you are responsible for staying on top of trends, always moving operations forward, and focusing on delivering new elements of growth for your team and credit union.
  • Learn how in-house and acquired data and technology can better assist you in delivering operating, financial, and experiential results. How might you leverage this information to boost sales, service, engagement, and support?
  • Build a digitally innovative and creative team and culture by investing in the digitally focused professional development of your colleagues. Look for webinars, schools, and certifications that emphasize the digital, automated, and business intelligence aspects of operations.
  • Learn from all professionals in the credit union who are delivering outstanding results in serving members and colleagues through digital means. Ensure their voices and ideas are heard at higher levels of leadership. Good practices and proposals from anywhere need the attention of managers with influence and the ability to direct resources.
  • Pursue and rotate responsibilities and opportunities for yourself and among your team. While digital progress often automates or eliminates tasks, it also creates opportunities for your colleagues to grow professionally through new experiences in new roles. In an evolving industry, being ready and prepared to serve in multiple disciplines increases the value you bring to the credit union.

As quickly as credit unions seek to deliver the digital experience and engagement that members expect, credit union leaders at all levels must be equipped to lead in a digital economy and industry. Technology has moved from the spoke to the hub of all we do and offer. Technological knowledge, savvy, and skills are quickly becoming the new starting point for professional development and value. Invest in these skills, for yourself and your colleagues, in preparation for the certainties of an evolving business environment.

© 2021 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


“Bring a Culture of Success to Your Credit Union”

March 22, 2021

“Bring a Culture of Success to Your Credit Union” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

An unexpected occurrence happened along the path of three decades serving credit unions and their business partners: the course widened to include helping many of the most recognized customer-centric companies in the country. After all, so many credit unions and their leaders have current and historical ties to these exceptional companies (think Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Marriott, Nordstrom, and more).  

What is it about these companies, cultures, and results that set them apart? It is obviously more than offering great products and providing high levels of service. These companies understand they exist, last, and will prosper because of their customers. Their commitment to a customer-focused way of life, ongoing marketing, and exceptional service leads to new, repeat, and referred business. What lessons from these companies can your credit union incorporate it its own culture and commitment to members?

Stay focused on members. In an industry where members have so many options, they chose you. Commit to building great rapport in every interaction and opportunity for engagement. While you certainly want more business from members, it will come on their terms. As members perceive your interest in a permanent relationship, they will be more open to opportunities for a primary relationship. A lifetime connection offers countless occasions for mindshare and wallet share.

Build leaders at all levels. In some way, every role at your credit union affects members. Member-facing professionals serve immediate needs; marketing professionals generate awareness, interest, and sales; technology professionals bring “anytime, anywhere” to life; and, administrative professionals keep the motor of your credit union running. Every employee is the CEO of her or his job. Invest in them as they appreciate the larger extent of success they create for members and the credit union.

Add a lot of tech to your touch. Ease, efficiency, and effectiveness have driven the member experience for eras. From ATMs to Telephone Teller to online banking to mobile everything – technology has always been a major component of financial services and will only grow in importance and member expectations. Invest in technology that adds value to engagement and experiences. Technology extends to operations, as well, as added automation and analytics improve internal experiences.

Define success in every function. Marketing, members, loans, profits, and experiences are the major drivers of success. Marketing brings in members; members generate loans; loans produce revenue; revenue managed properly results in profits; profits are invested in experiences; and, great experiences retain members. A job taken seriously creates results – for the member, employee, and credit union. Every moment brings an opportunity for each colleague to participate in the calculation of success.

Always be changing for good. If your members love how your credit union serves them now, wait six months. They are consumers, after all. Like updates in the App Store, the member experience is constantly expanding, improving, and optimizing. This reality necessitates that credit unions constantly examine the business horizon, be in a relentless state of growth, and lead at the speed of members. What’s next and necessary for members; and, how are you acting on the shift?

In short, the most customer-centric companies in the land are committed to a culture of success; and, that same message of success can be a part of your credit union – with members, as professionals, and for the credit union. The models above represent just a handful of best practices. Choose one, master it in your credit union, and then incorporate another as you move forward.

Watch for further articles on how your credit union can add more success and member-centricity to its culture and operations, as well as a full “Culture of Success” system customized exclusively for credit unions.

© 2020 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


One Click to Borrow?

February 25, 2021

“One Click to Borrow?” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Fifty Northwest credit union CEOs gathered last year, and the topic turned to Amazon Prime. Nearly all were members and enjoyed Amazon’s “One Click to Buy” feature. Convenient, cool, and a new normal most agreed. One CEO lightheartedly asked, “Could we ever see a day with ‘One Click to Borrow?’” All in the room favorably nodded.

Retail is retail. Consumers/members have expectations of their experiences in retail, regardless of product. What they receive through digital engagement, real-time status, and anytime access outside the credit union is exactly what they expect when engaging with the credit union. Review this list of consumer expectations of retail experiences and consider added ways that your credit union can enhance its commitment to members.

Simple. Apple refined the ease of navigating a computer in your hands and now members primarily engage with credit unions from their handheld devices. How many transactions can a member complete digitally? How many steps are necessary to conduct business? Could a member go “branch-free” and still deepen a relationship with your credit union?

Personal. For all the mobile-first and do-it-yourself habits of members, sometimes a face-to-face conversation is necessary. How advanced are your front-line leaders in their communications and consulting skills? If a member completed “Steps A through C” on her own, could your front-line leaders pick up at “Step D?” How skilled are your front-line leaders in empathy and interacting with diverse members?

Intuitive. “Readers like you also enjoyed…” is alongside every book we download. It’s a smart cross-sell because it’s linked to a single buyer’s potential interests. Do your member service systems have “Next Best or Likely Product” for recommendation? How tightly targeted are your marketing initiatives through your MCIF system? Have you shifted significant resources toward digital marketing?

Immediate. “Chat Now” features allow consumers to engage, with live professionals, on their terms and time. How many channels are available for members to engage with your credit union? Have you considered extended or weekend hours? How quickly can your credit union convert a “look-to-book” loan opportunity?  

Social. “Like, Follow, and Share” allow members to do more than see what your credit union is accomplishing; connecting through social media also allows members to be your brand ambassadors, influencers, and quality control analysts. How wide, active, and consistent is your credit union on social media? Can your members engage with you through social platforms? Are you open to receiving, and potentially acting on, social feedback from members?

The next time you find yourself wondering, “What’s next in member service or expectations?”, look no further than your own consumer habits. Every time you check, research, join, and buy; ask, “What about this experience might be helpful for members? What consumer liking is a part of this experience, and how might our members expect and enjoy the same?” Odds are good that what you believe and appreciate as a consumer mirror the same as your members.

© 2020 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


How a Board Can Help Its CEO During a Time of Crisis

December 31, 2020

“How a Board Can Help Its CEO During a Time of Crisis” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

The crisis management team is in place. Communications and media plans are in motion. State and local government recommendations and orders are being monitored and implemented. The Business Continuity Plan is providing structure and guidance. The Board has convened and met with the CEO several times and, most likely, via video conference. Logistics are in order for running the credit union and adapting to what changes the next day may bring. The Board can be confident that a system is in place to serve members in a safe, sound, and secure manner.

Now, a Board can turn its attention to helping its CEO be the executive it needs to lead the credit union through this crisis and emerge ready to serve members in different phases of life and business. Below are questions a Board should regularly ask its CEO to determine how it can make sure the CEO is prepared, well-informed, and confident in making the best decisions for the credit union.

How is your health and state of mind? Odds are good that the CEO and executive team have not had a day off in weeks. While a normal working schedule is rarely part of a CEO’s day, crises can be wearing. One CEO, working from home (and often from the motor home) asks this same question of every colleague. This CEO needs his colleagues at their best; and, your Board needs its CEO at her or his best. Remind your CEO of the importance of mental and physical well-being. 

How is staff morale? Empty branches, skeleton crews, remote working arrangements, uneasy members, and concerns about employment are just a handful of the drastic changes staff members face each day. Frequent updates are necessary in this environment. Managers should be checking in with staff throughout the day. Staff should be comfortable asking questions about the future, even if the answers aren’t known yet. Communication is vital to morale; morale is essential to service.

How are members reacting? News of layoffs, furloughs, business closings, and economic contraction will affect members and their finances. What shifts are occurring in deposit flows? What slowdowns are taking place with loan payments? What assistance programs can we offer or develop? What changes might we see in delinquencies and charge-offs? How does marketing and business development fit in this environment? Can we still add to the business as we manage in a recession?

How is the credit union financially? Your capital position gives you a picture of how the credit union can weather limited growth and earnings. Scenario planning allows your Board to view “What If?” projections and better understand decisions that may be necessary. Run multiple situations with significant changes in growth, interest margins, delinquencies, and losses. Observe the effect on earnings and capital. Preparation and awareness are key for, potentially, significant decisions.

How can the Board help? Here is where your Board can offer the CEO the greatest assistance. Your CEO may look to the Board for specific expertise, stakeholder communications, or support with priorities and focus. Your CEO will present a revised budget and will need your patience and backing. Your overall strategy may not change, but its execution will be placed on pause. Be open to what your CEO needs to ensure the viability and continuance of the credit union.

This is a demanding time for credit unions and their leadership. Business results, forecasts, and models have shifted overnight. Your credit union’s CEO is just as determined to lead the enterprise through this test as your Board is to see that members are served, and the credit union endures. As a Board, with one voice, complement your CEO’s leadership through your dependable attention, confidence, and commitment.

© 2020 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


Great Leaders Ask Great Questions

December 9, 2020

“Great Leaders Ask Great Questions” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

As leaders – supervisory, managerial, and executive – we are tasked with delivering results. The outcomes we are responsible for depend upon the solutions we help others create. As quickly as operations change and strategy can pause or pivot, leaders need to communicate in more frequent, well-defined ways. Consider these questions to generate better discussions with your direct reports and obtain a clearer understanding of where you can help them deliver on their goals.

  1. Is the credit union headed in the right direction? As leaders, we often discuss our view of the credit union’s future. But does this fit with what our line managers see and address every day? It is possible that superb strategic refinements are, literally, just outside your office door.
  2. Where do, or should, you fit along our strategic path? Here is your chance to learn how a job, team, or department contributes to a larger objective. It is also an opportunity to listen for new ideas about how others might provide more toward growth and successful operations.
  3. What is working? Often, in our quest to improve, we overlook the need to recognize. It is important to ask others where they are creating and observing success. They can reveal recent accomplishments and you may learn more about how operations are flourishing every day.
  4. What might work better? Forget about what did not work. That is the past and is likely corrected. Rehashing rarely moves business forward. Ask for ideas and proposals. Move forward with the good suggestions. Act on others’ concepts and they will take ownership.
  5. How can I help? An up-and-coming executive recently shared that his most important goal was to use his position, influence, and resources to make his team better. “The commitment to now and the future increases the more they win.” Challenge yourself with this outlook.
  6. How can I be better for you? This question might not receive much response at first but keep asking. Professional feedback for improvement goes both ways. As those you lead realize your sincerity and ensuing actions, they will continue to help you grow just as you help them.

Read through most job descriptions for leadership positions and you will find plenty of bullet points that focus on how a potential leader should deliver answers. While leadership does involve results, it takes significant questions to determine the best conclusions. As you seek to improve your capacity to lead, equally enhance your power to learn by asking great questions of your team.

© 2020 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.


The Case for an Agile Leadership Team

November 29, 2020

“The Case for an Agile Leadership Team” by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

“It’s been nearly three months. We have proven we can alter our delivery systems and ability to produce on a tight, demanding schedule in an externally influenced, adverse environment. We need that same dexterity from our own internal, positive force. It is time to discuss and plan for growth, whatever form it takes. We have the capital. We have the brand. We have the talent. We don’t have the time to waste.”

Those words – shared by a credit union CEO and sent to her leadership team – have been echoed by many credit union leaders in recent weeks. Perhaps, it is time to heed the words of that CEO and similar sentiments of others and begin discussing the case for growth through an agile leadership team. The lessons learned from being quick to act are just as valuable for new products, processes, markets, and models. Review these agile leadership essentials and incorporate them into the dynamics of your leadership team.

  • Ask “How Can We?” — a lot This fast-forward approach is based on creating a solution or acting on an opportunity. It puts your team in a state of mind designed to generate ideas, unravel challenges, and deliver results. It creates a culture of action and momentum, always moving forward.
  • Attack one opportunity at a time. The normal business of banking must be balanced with the need to innovate. As you prioritize, insist that your team focus and finish as it embarks on new projects. One completed venture outdoes many piecemeal undertakings.
  • Bring diverse experts together for planning and execution. Your credit union serves members many departments at a time; various roles are part of members’ experiences. Creating new solutions for members should involve a range of professionals; a multidisciplinary approach is essential. All perspectives should be understood to sharpen the initiative through its development.
  • Set 30-, 60-, and 90-day sprints for implementation. Self-imposed deadlines create urgency and energy. They create entrepreneurial actions to get original ideas and remedies to market and members right away. Observe incremental project milestones along the way, too. Small celebrations consistently reenergize and add to a team’s level of commitment. 
  • Learn, remain flexible, and adapt. Odds are good that the initial ideas toward cracking a challenge will not be the final product. But the refinements to concepts along the way will produce a result that matters most. Objectives are constantly steady; approaches change to reflect the most valuable and practical ways to reach a target or destination.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” reads the adage of folklore. The benefits of an agile leadership team are plentiful: faster delivery of solutions and services; improved responses to countless kinds of demands; and enhanced financial and operating results. One might argue that agility is an indispensable advantage in a competitive landscape, too. More important, agility provides the opportunity to release the capacity of your leadership team in an industry, environment, and economy that can change in a moment.

© 2020 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact: jeff@jeffrendel.com; www.jeffrendel.com; 951.340.3770.