CU Mission Should Engender Passion and Caring

Embrace six perspectives to build the future of the CU movement.

October 17, 2012
KEYWORDS brand , credit , marketing , unions
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3. CEO Compensation.But I know it when I see it.”

There may be a credit union CEO compensation variation of the famous Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart quote from 1964 about pornography, but a few rules for boards of directors, CEOs, and credit union compensation consultants might help us avoid that kind of comparison:

4. Business lending. Some in our industry, including some regulators, have a deep fear of credit union business lending. Indeed, we’ve had a number of headlines over the years about failures specifically linked to business lending.

Statistically, I think credit unions’ loss numbers are as good as or better than community banks’ numbers, but I do understand the objections and the concerns (lending does have risks).

Our job is to do the underwriting, pricing, and monitoring in a manner that mitigates those risks (or pays for them).

Credit union business lending is extremely important for a couple reasons:

In addition to the above benefits, business lending represents multiple lenders (credit unions and banks) in a community looking for good loans that will help finance business growth.

And, the U.S. needs good jobs and employment, and federal, state, and local governments need the tax receipts from successful businesses and their employees. That’s the principle on which to base the case for expansion of credit union member business lending.

And as a tangential benefit—as credit unions become more active business lenders—banks will become more competitive and business-friendly lenders as well.

5. Leadership. Be present, engaged, and passionate.

Years ago, participating senior executives in a group working with a consultant were each asked to pick from a list of descriptions of their leadership style. It was interesting, but not surprising, that no one in the group described himself or herself as “warm and fuzzy.”

In a way, that was disappointing because they had potentially eliminated the father figure, someone who is a good friend, someone with empathy, or perhaps leaders who sincerely care about the lives and welfare of those who work in their organizations.

I would not in any way de-emphasize core leadership requirements—technical competency, financial acumen, judgment, self-confidence, and communication skills. But I’d also want to see personality traits that would include warm and fuzzy, love, and enthusiasm.

Those soft and very positive motivating skills are particularly desirable, especially in a member-owned, not-for-profit entity. Our mission is to help people improve their lives, to have cars to get to work, to have homes and to improve them to meet their tastes and needs, to save and send their children to college, and to save and invest for retirement.

With that kind of mission, we should have a genuine passion for what we do, we can be caring and kind with co-workers, and we can have love for the member/owners we serve.

6. Do your absolute best! As a UCLA student in the 1960s, one of my heroes then—and since—has been UCLA’s legendary basketball coach John Wooden.

At the top of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is “competitive greatness,” which he defined as “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

JOHN TIPPETS is president/CEO of North Island Credit Union in San Diego.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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