Lessons from the 2008 Recession

This is an excerpt from my book, ” Shouldering the Cost” Available on Amazon as Kindle or paperback.

“First, things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticized.”

 — Ulysses S. Grant

This was not the first real estate crisis in Florida, and it will not be the last. Swampland and hucksters have been in Florida for 150 years. Persons that repeatedly took cash out, or bought too much house with nothing down, found themselves “upside down”. We called it “jingle mail” as we received the keys to the abandoned houses in the mail when the owner walked away from their legal and moral obligation.

The number of homeowners allowed to purchase more house than they could afford with little or nothing down has been under reported. If you want to know what fueled this housing crisis, and why your home’s value dropped with it, just look out your kitchen window at your neighbor’s home. They financed it via “liar loans” with nothing down, no income verification, no verified capacity to repay the debt, and did so with an adjustable rate mortgage that benefitted the mortgage broker.

When they walked away, the resulting foreclosure or short sale reduced your property value, too. You get to look at knee-high grass, a green swimming pool and vandalism of the property by the departing owners, or persons that steal whatever they can. It is common that the owners destroy the interior as they leave. That is especially so when renters, who may be current in their obligation, learn they are being evicted because their property owner, who accepted the rent each month did not pay the mortgage company. That happened to my son.

Homeowners were allowed to default on their mortgage payments for years while remaining in the house, and the larger mortgages were the last to be foreclosed upon because the smaller mortgage balances were easier to sell.  Big banks and lenders were swamped with workouts and the backlog of volume created apathy with the mortgage holders. Frequently, they would not even take a call from the debtors until the mortgage was in arrears over 90 days. I knew people who remained in their home for 18 months without making any payments. The mortgage holders could not produce proof that they own the mortgage, as the mortgages were packaged with others and sold to the secondary market.

All these factors combined to create unstable economic conditions of historic proportions and adversely affected almost all industries. Businesses were forced to close their doors and lay off staff in numbers not witnessed in many generations. Ultimately, my employer succumbed to the pressure and did likewise.

I felt with the real estate market in full implosion, and more than 50% of our equity vaporized, the best decision was to move to the least costly place. Doing so was predicated on the expectation that I was an experienced, respected CEO in my industry and would land another position shortly.

I said to my loving, supportive wife that the experience caused me to lose my faith in God, and regretfully, I did so for a while.

We could have stayed in the Florida home. My wife had a 20 year job she loved and I had accepted the position of interim-CEO, Sarasota Habitat for Humanity. I could have stayed there at a 66% of my previous salary, but I could not secure another position remotely equal to one I had lost.

An unintended consequence of this experience was that my wife…the redhead…resigned her 20 year position with a dental practice, left all her friends, workout buddies, executive home, familiar surroundings and followed me to rural NE Georgia. The redhead is resistant to change and was depressed for the better part of three years and the only jobs she could secure in the small mountain town were barista at Starbucks for eight months and then three years in the optical department of our Walmart.

Both honorable jobs and she enjoyed both. Still, it was a blow to my male psyche to sit at home conducting job searches while my wife was working at Walmart. It is worth noting here, that post-merger the displaced staff in almost all cases never finds a job anywhere the salary they lost. Lifetime earnings, retirement and health care insurance are all affected.

In his book Win at Losing, author Sam Weinman makes the case that failure can be used as fuel. The question, “did you fail, or just lose?” is uncomfortable. The author suggests that one implies fault; the other may be beyond your control. Chances are that you did not fail…rather, you lost to someone better prepared or who had information you did not.

After 25 years as a CEO, I can speak to feelings of failure. The great recession ended my career. The economic tsunami rolled over the organization due to mortgage losses created by big banks and mortgage lenders. In spite of the examiner stating that this was an economic crisis, and not a management event, I felt I was a failure. After these many years, I accept that it was a loss beyond my control.

I disagree with Mr. Weinman that “no pain, no gain” is anything other than a cliché. Calling that phrase science based and using terms like “post-traumatic growth” is dishonorable to anyone who suffers from PTSD and emboldens the society of persons who seek safe places because their feelings are hurt.

An unbroken routine of losing is debilitating. Growing from your losses is an opportunity for personal and professional growth, but do not assign a positive to losing. If you are consistently losing jobs, promotions, relationships or your health, then its time you did something very differently.

Not failing, or losing, will alleviate stress and improve your well-being. Research has proven that. I had a director who said stress was good. He was wrong. Unless you are an athlete who can channel stress for a few minutes to sharpen your focus and improve performance, stress can kill, literally.

Acknowledging your past is an important step. Being discontented due to losing or failing is often blamed on others. That is not productive. The problem is never external. Your answer always lies within. You may have allowed outside influences and circumstances to crush your enthusiasm and motivation. Positive conditioning is important.

There is value in mistakes, on that I agree, just do not continue to criticize yourself for past errors or you perpetuate the very behavior you want to change. Take responsibility for your failures, and do not shift blame to other people or to circumstances.

Failure is a state of mind. Unsuccessful people allow life’s setbacks to discourage and defeat them. Successful people view setbacks as learning experiences and bounce back even stronger…every time.

After more than 40 years of practiced experiences, it is my opinion that people fail to achieve their dreams of an abundant, satisfying life and career because their arrogance got in the way…not that they would admit it.

Leadership traits and aptitudes are learned…leaders are not born. Everything you demonstrate and possess, with the exception of intelligence, were acquired after birth. We are not born in God’s image as arrogant or devoid of integrity and ethics. Being a product of our past is something all humans have in common. That does not have to limit or define who or what we can become.

Separately from 25 years as a CEO in the credit union industry, I have military experience and leadership roles in both for-profit and not-for-profit worlds, have served on numerous boards of directors as a volunteer, and continue to do so.

Nothing you have not done also, it just adds some background to my argument that pride and self-conceit can become a limitation and frame how we are perceived by others. Arrogance grows unchecked and becomes hubris, which stifles the qualities that we admire most such as empathy, passion, heart, feelings, admiration, reverence and wonder. Name one leader that you admire that does not now, or did when they were alive, possess those endearing qualities?

Like you, I have former friends, business associates and others with whom I crossed paths that I would have liked to slap silly…and they are their own worst enemies. In fact I heard the word ‘hubris’ first from a friend and when our relationship went bad, it was because his arrogance could not allow him to accept or offer an apology.

As a certified business coach, I work exclusively with ethical, successful leaders who are prepared to make positive behavioral changes in themselves, their teams and their organizations. All my clients have come to a crossroad and acknowledge that in order to achieve work-life balance something must change. It wakes them up at 2 am.

Whether it is mental, social, spiritual or family development depends on the individual; however, it always has an influence on their family and career development.

Google shows almost 6 million references to the word arrogance and another 3 million to the word hubris. We see both in our daily lives and in ourselves. There are consequences felt by those on the receiving end. The terms self-important and arrogant are uncomplimentary. Those that display those traits find it offensive when others remind them that they are; but few have the courage to make a positive change.

All men and women that left their mark on the world possessed courage. They faced the challenges in their life; they spoke out and had the courage of their convictions. Like all the other character traits that you observe and learn, courage is one that is not inherited. You develop it by believing in yourself and adhering to your values and goals. Courage attracts others to follow, respect and support you.

Courage, Sir Winston Churchill said, “is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.” “Courage is the first of human qualities….because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

Your courage and confidence will grow as you face challenges, set goals and strive to achieve them. A positive attitude makes it almost impossible to feel frustrated with the results. Persons that have courage are often afraid. They saddle up anyway and in doing so, inspire others. Honor and integrity are more deeply ingrained.

I was one of the leaders who shouldered the costs, and it is my duty to share my story to help facilitate the return of honor to my former profession and to my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Banking Collapse of 2008, Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Corporate Coaching Services, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Effective Communication, Ethics, Executive Coaching, Honor, Integrity, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Leadership in Regulatory Agencies, Sarasota FL, Strategic Advisor, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reasons You Miss the Mark to Achieve Your Potential

No matter how hard we try to be self-aware, everyone—including the best leaders—has unproductive behaviors that are invisible to us but glaring to everyone else.

A blind spot is a performance-hindering mindset or behavior of which you’re unaware or have chosen to overlook. A recent Business Week article cites some important research:

  • A Hay Group study shows that an organization’s senior leaders are more likely to overrate themselves and develop blind spots that can hinder their effectiveness.
  • A study by Development Dimensions International, Inc., found that 89 percent of front-line leaders have at least one skills-related blind spot.

The Hay research suggests that, as executives rise within an organization, the less likely they are to see themselves as others perceive them. They often lose touch with those they lead—not surprising, given their increased isolation and the executive suite’s “rarified” atmosphere. As they reach the pinnacle of their profession, they have fewer peers and greater power. Honest feedback and open dialogue often become rare commodities. This poses a serious problem, as researchers have found a direct correlation between high performance and inaccurate self-awareness.

The most common blind spots are:

  1. Experience
  2. Personality
  3. Values
  4. Strategy
  5. Conflict

The Experience Blind Spot

We rarely examine what led to a successful outcome, including luck’s role in the process. We automatically assume we were right. When we encounter a new situation, we impulsively draw on our memories of success, without questioning whether prior strategies fit current circumstances. Debriefing is a key success factor that isn’t used in most organizations. The airlines and military do it and you should too.

Thus, a long history of accolades and achievements can potentially produce troublesome blind spots. The danger is assuming that past results guarantee future successes.

The Personality Blind Spot

Each personality type has strengths and weaknesses and when carried to the extreme or inflamed by stressful situations, even our core strengths can become career-damaging weaknesses.

For example, if you’re naturally optimistic, your thinking is biased toward the positive. This is usually good if you’re charged with inspiring others. There are times when optimism backfires and leaves you blindsided by negative realities—something you miss until it’s too late.

Personality blind spots are often hard to discover because we value our strengths so highly. We often fail to see the downside of what works so well for us. With increased awareness, you can train yourself to detect emerging blind spots. Ask yourself:

  • Am I playing to the downside of my strengths?
  • How will I know when my strengths blind me to my inherent weaknesses?
  • Who can be a sounding board as I work toward increasing self-awareness?

 The Values Blind Spot

When your attitude and emotions are out of sync with your values, you become uncomfortable and unbalanced. What we say and do is incongruent with what we believe and who we are.

Values blind spots can occur on a personal or group level. They are particularly dangerous when you’re somewhat aware of them, then fail to take appropriate corrective action.

In business situations, a values blind spot can affect large groups. Can you think of a time when an implied incentive to maintain the status quo conflicted with a change initiative? That’s a typical values blind spot in action.

Strategy Blind Spots

Organizations frequently reward conformity and punish critical or questioning voices.

When a collective view becomes self-reinforcing around a set of practices, assumptions or beliefs, there is potential for groupthink. Creativity and agility suffer because conformance is valued above change, and risk is discouraged.

Strategy blind spots can occur in any organizational area. They’re often spotted in hindsight, after an important opportunity is missed.

Leaders who prize openness and transparency have the best chance of spotting strategy blind spots. They encourage input at all levels, fostering a culture of trust where ideas are honestly debated.

The Conflict Blind Spot

Conflict can be healthy in relationships and organizations where trust has been established. Diverse perspectives challenge tunnel vision and the status quo, while promoting learning and innovation. When issues are constructively debated, new solutions emerge.

Conflict becomes destructive when positive energy turns negative and erodes trust. Empathy and insight are tossed aside when we filter incoming information through the lens of what we believe and want. We categorize others as the enemy, who must be wrong.

Instead of debate, conflict becomes a power struggle that prevents you from seeing any solution (other than winning your point).

You must reboot your higher intelligence to find your way out of a conflict blind spot. Slow the discussion; perhaps even take a break. Breathe deeply and re-center yourself. When you return to discussions, acknowledge common ground instead of focusing on gaps.

Overcoming Blind Spots

All our executive coaching and team leadership clients complete an attribute index that identifies their blind spots and we discuss how it influences decision-making. A blind spot’s effects may not show up right away. Without paying careful attention, you may miss the warning signs. It’s critical for you to proactively work toward discovering them, before you feel the effects.

Consider working with a professional coach. Also take a look at past or current struggles to determine whether blind spots have hindered your performance. What can you learn from your mistakes? What would you do differently in the future? Reframe situations from others’ perspectives.

When you are uncertain of a blind spot, fight against the normal inclination to stay anchored in safe, established patterns.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Corporate Coaching Services, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Integrity, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching, Positive Behavior Chanage, Team Building, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strategic Planning For Optimum Business Management

2017 is ending. The holiday season is a very busy time for most people between sending out cards, shopping, holiday parties, etc. However, this is also a very important time of year for us to prepare for 2018. Do you have your strategy or plan laid out to make sure next year is successful?

Strategic Planning is an organizational tool that is used by groups and corporations globally to refine their goals and maximize their resources. Drawing from the concepts of strategic military planning, the strategic planning process is one way in which businesses strive to attain a competitive edge. Strategic planning involves defining goals, creating an adaptable business plan and measuring core competencies of staff to increase productivity and results. The understanding and implementation of strategic planning can significantly affect a company’s ability to maximize revenue and growth. The process has been used effectively in many fields of business, education, and government to formulate productive business systems and resource management solutions.

While there are several different approaches to implementing a strategic planning process, most models use the following definitions:

• Mission definition: The mission definition stage of strategic planning encourages an organization to develop a brief description of purpose to inform potential stockholders, employees, and customers what they can expect from the company. From the mission definition, a mission statement can be developed that serves as a company’s calling card and core focus description.

• Vision/Trend Analysis: The next facet of strategic planning directs a company to analyze current market trends and make committed decisions about where the business is heading. Defining long-term goals and visualizing the future of the organization can help to focus current activities and important financial decisions.

• Strategic Objectives: Once long term goals have been set, the strategic objectives phase consists of formulating actual business plans to achieve the visualized goals. One acronym used frequently in this stage of strategic planning is SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time frame assessed. Ensuring all objectives meet the SMART criteria improves increases the odds of goal achievement.

• Critical Success Factors: Important milestones and achievements key to goal realization should be identified at the critical success factor stage of strategic planning. Singling out these factors provides an easy means for measuring the ongoing success of the business plan.

• Actions to be implemented: After critical success factors have been identified, the next phase involves the development of action plans need to realize success. Specific tasks and management strategies are designed to effectively implement the business plan. Task management is often defined by the core competencies required for each position in the company.

• Performance Analysis and Progress Measurement: The last of the most common steps is comprised of formulating methods by which to measure the organization’s progress. Comprehensive performance analysis tools and measurement criteria are developed to effectively monitor the success of the current system. These tools can be used to report both internally and externally on the progress and growth of the company.

Creating a defined strategic plan will maximize the use of resources to achieve organizational success and sustainability.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Critical Goal Categories, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Goal Setting, Mission Statement, Strategic Advisor, strategic planning, Success Coach, Values Statement, Vision Statement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Myths about Motivating Your Employees…and the Frank Truth

If your employees lack motivation, do not be too quick to blame them. Managers and organizational practices are frequently the problem.

In The Truth about Managing People (FT Press, 2007), Stephen P. Robbins, PhD, examines 10 common myths about motivation.

Myth #1: People just lack the motivation to work.
If you believe this myth, think about three things that may be going on in your employees’ minds. Ask yourself:

  1. Do your employees believe their maximum efforts will be recognized in performance appraisals? For many employees, the response is a resounding “no.” If they think their best efforts will yield only a mediocre review, they will suffer from low motivation.
  2. Do employees believe a good performance appraisal will lead to organizational rewards? When pay is allocated on seniority or special relationships, employees perceive the performance-reward relationship to be weak and demotivating.
  3. Are the rewards that employees receive the ones they want? Some people want promotions, others desire pay, and still others seek more interesting assignments. When rewards are not tailored to employees’ specific wants and motivating drives, incentives are sub optimized.

Myth #2: Happy workers are productive workers.

We assume satisfied workers are more productive. This theory plays out as flexible work hours, onsite childcare and workout facilities, retirement plans and attractive workplaces. While these amenities are nice rewards, they really are not incentives for high performance.

The evidence suggests that productive workers are more likely to be happy workers, rather than the reverse. If you do a good job, you feel positive about your efforts. This fuels your energy to accomplish more. Higher productivity should be recognized with praise, increased pay and the opportunity to earn even greater rewards.

Myth #3: Tell employees to do their best and let them find their own path. A mountain of evidence shows us that people perform best when they are given goals:

  • Specific goals increase performance.
  • Difficult goals, when accepted, result in higher performance.
  • Feedback leads to higher performance.

When you give an assignment with instructions to “do your best,” you are not providing enough specificity.

Myth #4: People want to set their own goals.
In spite of the logic behind participatory management, there is little evidence to show that goals set between employee and managers are superior to those unilaterally assigned by the boss.

For participation to work:

In reality, some people do not want the responsibilities that come with participation. They prefer to be told what to do and let the boss do the worrying.

Myth #5: Happiness leads to “flow” experiences.
When you are deeply involved in your work, you lose track of time—a state known as flow.
Flow experiences are periods of deep concentration during which workers report feelings of gratitude and satisfaction. To enter into flow, employees must be:

  • Challenged
  • Goal-directed
  • Provided with feedback
  • Allowed total concentration and creativity, without distractions and interruptions.

Myth #6: Feedback needs to address personal qualities. Telling employees that they are doing a “good job” is not good enough. Neither are comments about attitudes or efforts. Feedback must be specific and about behaviors not personal attributes.

No matter how upset you may be, limit feedback to job-related issues and never criticize someone personally.

Myth #7: Reward behaviors that indicate high performance.
Unfortunately, it is easy—and often tempting—to measure the wrong indicators. For example, the number of phone calls an employee places does not measure customer relationships or sales. In addition, when managers reward individual accomplishments, yet consistently say they are team-focused, employees take notice.


When you discuss the importance of quality work, pay special attention to employees who exceed their production goals, but churn out below-average work.

Myth #8: Reward absolute results.
Employees compare their work situations to those of friends, colleagues, competitors or prior jobs. They assess how equitably they are being treated.

Your team will likely be motivated when members feel they are equitably rewarded for their contributions. When they feel under-rewarded, they become angry and this perceived inequity could lead to absences, reduced productivity, fudging on expenses and/or requests for a raise.

Myth #9: Low-skilled workers receive pay and benefits commensurate with their value. How do you motivate individuals who earn very low wages and lack opportunities to significantly increase their pay or receive promotions? Traditional approaches have focused on providing more flexible work schedules and filling these jobs with teenagers or retired people. However, something is not working: turnover rates at fast-food restaurant chains still hover at around 300 percent annually.

Some chains have experimented with stock options and incentive pay, broader responsibilities for inventory, scheduling and hiring and retirement plans, health insurance and scholarship money. Nevertheless, over a four-year period, turnover rates have been only minimally reduced: approximately 160% to 223%. Unless pay and benefits are significantly increased, high turnovers probably have to be expected in these jobs

Myth #10: You can methodically apply motivation strategies to create high performance.
Job success depends on having adequate support resources. No matter how motivated employees may be, they will not perform well if they lack equipment, workspace, supplies, skills or others’ cooperation. They will quickly lose motivation, no matter the incentives or rewards offered. As you determine why a particular worker is performing poorly, examine the work environment to see if it is supportive. Employee performance is a combination and interaction of:

  • Attitude
  • Ability
  • Motivation
  • Opportunity
Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is hard to believe that 2017 is rapidly ending

The holiday season is typically a very busy time for most people between sending out cards, shopping, holiday parties, etc. However, this is also a very important time of year for us to prepare for 2018. Do you have your strategy or plan laid out to make sure 2017 is a successful year for you?

Strategic Planning is an organizational tool that is used by groups and corporations globally to refine their goals and maximize their resources. Drawing from the concepts of strategic military planning, the strategic planning process is one way in which businesses strive to attain a competitive edge. Strategic planning involves defining goals, creating an adaptable business plan and measuring core competencies of staff to increase productivity and results. The understanding and implementation of strategic planning can significantly affect a company’s ability to maximize revenue and growth. The process has been used effectively in many fields of business, education, and government to formulate productive business systems and resource management solutions.

While there are several different approaches to implementing a strategic planning process, most models use the following definitions:

  •  Mission definition: The mission definition stage of strategic planning encourages an organization to develop a brief description of purpose to inform potential stockholders, employees, and customers what they can expect from the company. From the mission definition, a mission statement can be developed that serves as a company’s calling card and core focus description.
  •  Vision/Trend Analysis: The next facet of strategic planning directs a company to analyze current market trends and make committed decisions about where the business is heading. Defining long-term goals and visualizing the future of the organization can help to focus current activities and important financial decisions.
  •  Strategic Objectives: Once long term goals have been set, the strategic objectives phase consists of formulating actual business plans to achieve the visualized goals. One acronym used frequently in this stage of strategic planning is SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time frame assessed. Ensuring all objectives meet the SMART criteria improves increases the odds of goal achievement.
  •  Critical Success Factors: Important milestones and achievements key to goal realization should be identified at the critical success factor stage of strategic planning. Singling out these factors provides an easy means for measuring the ongoing success of the business plan.
  • Actions to be implemented: After critical success factors have been identified, the next phase involves the development of action plans need to realize success. Specific tasks and management strategies are designed to effectively implement the business plan. Task management is often defined by the core competencies required for each position in the company.
  • Performance Analysis and Progress Measurement: The last of the most common steps is comprised of formulating methods by which to measure the organization’s progress. Comprehensive performance analysis tools and measurement criteria are developed to effectively monitor the success of the current system. These tools can be used to report both internally and externally on the progress and growth of the company.

Creating a defined strategic plan will maximize the use of resources to achieve organizational success and sustainability.

Posted in Critical Goal Categories, Executive Leadership Coaching, Implementing Your Strategic Plan, Mission Statement, Strategic Advisor, strategic planning, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Motivation and Your Personal Vision – An Unbeatable Force

Motivation can take you far, but it can take you even further if you first find your vision. Your vision will motivate and guide you on your journey to success and personal fulfillment.

This issue focuses on five steps you can use to effectively find your vision. Please use this information in the growth of your own business or share with your clients when appropriate as a value-added tool.

Trying to succeed at anything without first having a clear vision of what it is you want to accomplish will only lead to you going around in circles and eventually giving up in frustration.

To develop your vision, you must look inside yourself. Vision comes from within, from the spirit or subconscious, whatever you choose to call it. Everyone has a vision that is uniquely their own, and you are no different. The hard part comes in understanding your personal vision and how it applies to your personal motivation plan.

Your vision will most likely not come suddenly like some bolt of lightning out of the sky. Instead, it will grow from your experiences, talents, dreams, and desires, so do not try to rush it. Instead, keep your motivation and allow your vision to reveal itself through you.

Here are five steps you can use to effectively find your vision:

1. Learn to listen to your inner voice. Since your vision starts from inside you, you should learn to listen and feel what your mind and heart truly desire. What stirs you? What is your greatest desire? What kind of dreams do you have? If what you think you want does not really come from the inner depths of your heart and soul, then you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to not give up before you achieve it.

2. Prepare yourself mentally. Your vision begins in your mind and heart. It is something that burns within your soul. It should be greater than your past memories, mistakes, and accomplishments. If you know what your vision is, you will have a purpose and will not get lost on your journey. Discouragement is the outcome of not having a distinct vision. If you do not know where you are going or how to get there, the journey will seem a lot longer and harder.

In order to seek your vision, retreat to a quiet and tranquil place, a place that will allow your mind to think creatively and concentrate on your vision.

3. Seek out other motivated vision seekers. Greatness breeds greatness, and it is for this reason that you should seek out the company of others who can appreciate and support your vision. Hang with the winners and it will keep your motivation high.

4. Keep a notebook and pen handy. All too often, when seeking a vision, it is easy to forget that it is 90% inspiration, as American inventor Thomas Edison said. “With that in mind, you never know when your vision is going to come to fruition, so keep a small notebook with you at all times, even on your nightstand when you sleep, and write down whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly it seems at the time. You may write down a 100 crazy ideas but number 100 just might be the vision you were searching for.” Do not try to edit right now, just write down everything that comes to mind.

5. Don’t try to fully understand your vision. The vision you are seeking will most likely come to you in ways that you will not fully understand now. That is okay. Just follow as much of your vision as you can right now, and more will be revealed to you as time goes on.

All truly successful people have a vision that they follow, no matter what challenges they may face, to it’s eventual outcome. Begin following the above steps to seek your vision today and remember that true, lasting success will never come to you until you know what your vision is and how you will follow it. In addition, you will be unstoppable if you combine your personal vision with a healthy dose of motivation.

 

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Will You Build Your Loyal Members?

The number one objective of your credit union, or any organization, is to increase loyal customers.

Having all the focus upon metrics and financial measures is shortsighted.

Member loyalty develops referrals. It makes an effective argument for the value of member loyalty. As part of an overall strategy, creating and retaining loyal members must be a top priority in your organization.

Most credit unions do not know what their Net Promoter Score (your Member Loyalty Score) is, or what the value of a loyal member is. Member loyalty is a strategic advantage if you want to separate your organization from the competition. It has been proven that organizations with high levels of loyal customers typically grow revenues at twice the rate of their competition. However, the strategy of developing loyal customers must become a part of the organization’s culture and ingrained throughout. Since the culture of an organization will always drive the behavior of the people who work within the organization, people will behave differently if the culture is entirely profit driven.  In this culture, people will do whatever they have to in order to produce profit, often times at the expense of the customer.

That has been, and will remain, a challenge for credit unions especially as they continue to manage through a difficult economic period and in a regulatory environment that is overbearing and expensive. With unreasonable regulations, unqualified examiners, and a narrow-minded focus on the Net Worth Ratio, making a case for loyal members as a strategy can be daunting.

“People will forget what you said, or what you’ve done…but they will never forget how you made them feel”…. Maya Angelou.

A hassle-free experience and being recognized as a human being. Isn’t that the essence of a loyal customer strategy? Don’t we all want that? Yet, we treat our staff with indifference and expect them to provide points of connection with the members that will create a memorable experience. The NCUA and State examiners treat you, the executives and your Board as idiots and then get defensive when their actions are questioned. Bill Marriott, Sr. was known to say, “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat the guest.”

The adage that it all flows downhill has never been truer. Too many credit unions have focused exclusively on financial metrics in a needed response to unprecedented economic circumstances; however, leadership has made no investment in their employees, and has actually taken actions that harmed employee morale, productivity and any chance that their employees would introduce their friend to the credit union as an employee or member. Your fellow employees are your internal customers. Steven Covey’s position was that you build up “emotional loyalty banks” over time. If your member’s first experience is poor you have nothing to withdraw. That works the same with your employees, and those NCUA and State examiners that were born constipated and never recovered. A bad first experience, in the absence of an emotional bank of great experiences, creates an over drawn account.

Place a financial value on the lost opportunities if 10-20 of your employees tell others about their bad experience of working at your credit union. Now multiply that by the actual number of employees and members in your credit union. Scary isn’t it? Most credit unions have not quantified the total revenue opportunity based on life of member. A satisfied member may not come back; however, a loyal member always comes back. You can calculate the value and significance of a loyal member to your organization.

The Retail Industry (grocery store, drycleaner, etc.), for an example, may use $50.00 per visit, times number of visits per year. So, a Satisfied Customer that spends $50 on one visit creates total revenue opportunity per year, and in this case, total revenue opportunity period of $50. Compare a Loyal Customer with the same $50 revenue per visit, who visits weekly (52 times) which produces total revenue opportunity of $2,600 per year, and $26,000 total lifetime revenue opportunity (based on an average of once per week for 10 years). Another advantage is that Loyal Customers will consistently boast about your product or service creating the most effective and least expensive form of advertising for your organization.

Six out of ten customers will never return based upon poor service… not poor products. Satisfied customers alone will not create a loyal customer relationship. If an organization has not developed an emotional connection with their customers (and employees) to develop a long-term relationship, satisfaction will ultimately be worthless. Satisfaction alone does not build a strong or Loyal Customer relationship.

The four components to building a successful and sustainable business are the ability to grow financially, the ability to innovate, the ability to manage the organization effectively, and the ability to develop and sustain a loyal customer base.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Creating a Sales Culture in Your Organization, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Customer Loyalty, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Implementing Your Strategic Plan, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Let Go of Bad Leadership?

Leaders everywhere are in disgrace. Hardly a day goes by without news of corporate ethical violations, financial fudging and CEO failures. Yet, compensation packages and bonuses continue unabated, even when disgraced leaders are sent packing.

Credit union CEOs are compensated, some well, but nothing like their banker counterparts or corporate America. It is worth stating that credit union CEOs also don’t end up in the news for unethical behaviors or fiduciary malfeasance either or it is rare.

I was a credit union CEO for almost 29 years and not until the great recession did I witness first-hand an unprecedented number of ethical miss-steps from other CEOs and most disturbingly, the federal and state examiners.

Harvard Business School Professor Barbara Kellerman criticizes the leadership-development industry in her new book, The End of Leadership (Harper Business, April 2012). She states:

Leadership’s Devolution

We presumed, until recently, that leaders should dominate and followers must do as they’re told. After several revolutions, labor movements, human-rights legislation and the spread of democracy, the world has radically changed.

Power, authority and influence are in scarce supply for even the most charismatic credit union CEOs and continuing to decentralize. Workers in the middle and at the bottom of the hierarchy have an expanded sense of entitlement, but they’re demanding more and giving less.

Workers are time and again indifferent, disengaged or outright resistant. There are only two reasons they’ll follow a leader:

  1. They have to.
  2. They want to.

The end of the 20th century marked the demise of command-and-control leadership, although some bosses stubbornly insist on trying to make it work. In its place, leaders are advised to become more participatory—to lead by cooperation and collaboration.  Leadership success may be judged on these criteria:

  • Is the leader ethical?
  • Is he/she effective?
  • Does the business make money and provide jobs?

Followers judge their leaders in the workplace differently and ask:

  1. Does my boss have my best interests in mind and does he/she even know what they are?
  2. Is my boss looking out for the company’s best interests?
  3. Why should I believe, follow and trust this person?

There is no leadership without followership. Good leadership requires good followers who may be passive or active (depending on context). Followers have generally been slow to embrace empowerment and participate in the leader/follower dance.

Flawed Followers

Could it be that today’s credit union and regulatory leaders can get away with various and sundry offenses because their followers fail to demand accountability? Many of us are too timid, disengaged or alienated to speak up, making it easy for our leaders to do what they want and what’s best for their personal benefit.

The leadership-development industry has become huge, with $50 billion a year spent on training. Shouldn’t the curriculum include elements of followership?

Kellerman asks those in charge of leadership-development programs to question the assumptions the industry promotes:

She suggests necessary mindset shifts based on these assumptions:

  1. We cannot stop or slow bad leadership by changing human nature. No amount of preaching or sermonizing—no exhortations to virtuous conduct, uplifting thoughts or wholesome habits—will remove the fact that our nature is constant even when our behaviors change.
  2. We cannot stop or slow bad leadership without stopping and slowing bad followership. Leaders and followers are interdependent.
  3. We cannot stop or slow bad leadership by sticking our heads in the sand. Amnesia, wishful thinking, the lies we tell as individuals and organizations and all of the other mind games we play to deny or distort reality get us nowhere. Avoidance inures us to the costs and casualties of bad leadership, allowing them to fester.

If you do this, you can change your behavior and the perceptions of others. Become more effective and ethical by following these positive solutions:

  • Limit tenure in positions of power; share power.
  • Don’t believe your own hype; get and stay real.
  • Compensate for your weaknesses by hiring and delegating well.
  • Stay balanced and healthy.
  • Remember the vision and mission.
  • Develop a personal support system (mentor, advisor, coach, best friend).
  • Establish a culture of openness in which diversity and dissent are encouraged.
  • Be creative, reflective and flexible.
  • Avoid groupthink; ask the right kinds of questions.
  • Question assumptions; get reliable and complete information.
  • Establish checks and balances.

What Followers Can Do

Followers must play a bigger part if bad leaders are to be stopped or slowed. Many followers consider the price of intervention to be too high. There are real benefits for going along, and real costs and risks for not going along. We often choose to mind our own business. Nevertheless, incompetent and unethical leaders cannot function without followers.

Followers can strengthen their ability to resist bad leaders by observing these guidelines:

  • Empower yourself.
  • Be loyal to the whole, not to any one person.
  • Be skeptical; leaders are not deities.
  • Find allies; develop your own sources of information.
  • Be a watchdog (especially if the board seems too compliant).
  • Take collective action (even on a modest scale, such as assembling a small group to talk to the boss).
  • Hold leaders accountable; use checks and balances already in place.
Posted in Banking Collapse of 2008, Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would Your Career and Life Improve if Empathy was a Strength?

Being a successful leader often requires us to make difficult decisions and those, choices usually affect others. People respect and admire leaders who can make demanding, informed decisions. The opposite is true of leaders that are perceived as out of touch and rule through intimidation.

Can you be a great leader and exhibit empathy for your people? Of course. Can you be a successful leader and not exhibit empathy for people? Yes, but not for long. The question to ask is which do you want to be? Being sensitive to others, but willing to assert your own will over others is not being ruthless. Possibly even hostile or provocative is.

Financially successful leaders such as the Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Donald Trump are examples of executives not known for empathy. The fictitious J. R. Ewing of Dallas fame and Monty Burns of The Simpsons are contemporary examples of how the media perceives leaders that exhibit a blind spot with empathy.

Bob Galvin, the former CEO of Motorola, said this about the importance of empathy when referring to his father, the founder of the company:

Dad once looked down at the assembly line of women and thought; ‘These are all like my own mom-they have kids, homes to take care of, people who need them’ It motivated him to work hard because he saw his own mom in all of them. That’s how it all begins-with respect and empathy.”

February 2010: CEO Galvin of the poultry processor Inghams will rebuild its fire-ravaged plant on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and keep 350 of its 600 staff in employment while construction continues over the next 12 months. The National Union of Workers Victorian Secretary Antony Thow said the rebuild was a great outcome for the workers, their families and the local community. “The unity, strength and dedication of the Inghams workers has been rewarded,” Mr. Thow said.

There is difference in how employees are treated at these companies. While the success of Messrs. Jobs, Ellison, Trump, Ewing and Burns is unquestionable, at what price was it achieved? The success of Mr. Galvin and the ownership of Inghams is also unquestionable. Which style would you rather explain to your children, or St. Peter?

The win at all costs approach has much to do with the rise and fall of our economy. The great recession empowered risk taking; however it resulted in a crash. Being innovative, successful, contributing to society, advancing technological gains, etc., are not easy.  Successful people and organizations are often vilified and the Monday morning quarterbacks will almost always be critical. The lack of empathy in a leader is an obstacle to gaining the full support and trust of the employees.

Leaders that want to have their organizations recognized as an employer of choice and to grow loyal customers, have a net promoter score that exceeds their industry average. They cannot do that without a strong impression of empathy towards their employees.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Effective Communication, Employee Motivation, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Integrity, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Leadership in Regulatory Agencies, Management Coaching, Positive Behavior Chanage, Right Action, Success Coach | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Start Today to Plan Next Year

Its mid-year 2017. Many people will mull over what went right this year and what did not. Where are the opportunities to improve in 2018, your overall organizational goal categories, areas of responsibility, prioritizing goals, converting goals to action steps, and execution?

As a leader it is important that your personal behaviors and core values be considered in a personal planning process. The business that you manage reflects your personal core values and vision, so the long-range strategic plan for your life must be harmonious with your professional goals. Few of my clients had a long-range strategic plan for their life when we started. That leads to role awareness and self-direction issues.

Before you set a path in that may end up being a repeat of this year, and the one before, take the time to review your personal strategic plan, and that of your business. Is your personal plan on target? Then what are the key metrics that drive your business? Create a business goals scorecard that captures goals from last year, and columns that you may check off that say, “Were our goals accomplished…Yes or No”, “What was the dollar impact”, and “Who was accountable”. That is the leaping off place.

You should examine quality, productivity, efficiency, staff turnover, strategy, marketing, etc. All are opportunities for improvement. For the accountants in the group, look outside your comfort zone and see your business in a balanced way. Numbers are important; however, your success is based upon the cooperation of your management team and employees. No business can successfully grow loyal customers without loyal employees. Look at all successful organizations, and their leadership, and you will find that they all relied upon the collaboration and support of their employees. There has never been a successful leader that accomplished it on their own.

People management, in my experience in executive roles, is where budget cuts are made first and restored last. Ask your HR executive what is really important to them? The response I hear most often is that employees have the skills and knowledge that caused you to hire them, but little if anything has been invested in growing their goal-setting capabilities, communication talents, or team building. The HR executive knows the employees need development.

The discipline of setting goals is a learned one. Few people have been shown how to do so in a structured method that always uncovers obstacles, solutions, actions, and time specific milestones.

Spend less time rehashing the vision statement, and more time on your employees. Investing in them now will pay big dividends in the future. Allow your managers and employees to grow personally and they will do so professionally. You win, the business wins, and the customers win.

A harmonious annual goals review that includes organizational planning and personal planning is needed to ensure that 2018 is the best year ever!

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Corporate Coaching Services, Critical Goal Categories, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Goal Setting, Implementing Your Strategic Plan, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching, strategic planning, Success Coach | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment