Management

A Man of Integrity

Warren Morrow was a visionary for CUs and for the Hispanic community-at-large.

April 01, 2013
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I‘m not easily impressed. I think I have a good eye for spotting a phony, perhaps because the world is full of them. I’ve known talented people who are as phony as a three-dollar bill, as the saying goes. Integrity matters, but it’s not always easy to measure.

When I was young, I compared older men I’d meet to my father. That’s not unusual for sons lucky enough to have fathers who are good men. I learned from my father to judge a man carefully and offer your trust and friendship sparingly—at least at first.
 
No father is perfect. Mine wasn’t. All fathers have flaws, sometimes some big ones. But once a son passes the age of hero-worship and looks honestly at his father and can accept him for who he is, then the better traits that are integral to a man’s character loom even larger.
 
My truest way to gauge people has never been business acumen or professional skills. I’ve known many who can legitimately boast of both. Those skills aren’t uncommon. It’s less common for it to be said of you at the end of life that you always had a friend’s back or that your handshake was as good as a signed contract. Integrity matters, but it’s sometimes hard to see.
 
I once knew a man named Warren Morrow, and he impressed me. Warren was young enough to be my son, but I knew from the moment I met him at dinner on a cold January night in Madison, Wis., that he was a guy I could count on and trust if I did business with him. And during the few short years I knew him, he never disappointed. Warren was president of Coopera, a Hispanic consulting firm and CUNA partner. The Iowa Credit Union League acquired Coopera because it recognized sooner than many that the nation’s Hispanic demographic was important for credit unions.
 
It was a bit more than one year ago that Iowa League President Pat Jury called me to deliver the terrible news that Warren had passed away in his sleep the night before from an undiagnosed heart ailment. We all lost something that day.
 
Warren was a visionary for credit unions and for the Hispanic community-at-large. He believed passionately that credit unions needed Hispanic members and that Hispanics needed credit unions.
 
At Warren’s visitation and funeral, it was obvious how deep his touch went and how many people loved and respected him—and not just credit union people. His influence reached many community neighborhoods and business sectors.
 
True visionaries are rare. They’re people like Edward Filene, Roy Bergengren, Louise Herring, and Dora Maxwell. Those are the kinds of giants I believe Warren now walks among.
 
Many years ago, I interviewed a departing CUNA executive who’d been instrumental in getting credit unions the ability to provide checking accounts, credit cards, and mortgages. I can’t remember much from that interview except one comment he made: He feared for the movement if it ever lacked the visionary leadership that drove its creation.
 
Movements do not live forever if they lack the passion, drive, and integrity of visionaries. An industry or business might survive but a movement will die. Fortunately, I still can see other Warren Morrows, other visionaries at work in credit unions and leagues. They might still be rare, but this precious movement of ours is in good hands.
 
Warren’s vision and passion continue at Coopera in the capable hands of Miriam De Dios and her staff, and with the continued support of the Iowa League.
 
Warren was a man of integrity. He wasn’t a phony. His handshake was as good as a contract. My father would have liked and respected Warren Morrow. And that’s the greatest compliment I can give anyone.
 
MARK CONDON is CUNA’s senior vice president, business and consumer publishing. Contact him at 608-231-4078.

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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 (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) 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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