Cooperative Leadership Openings Expand Beyond The NCUA Board

The two expired terms for the NCUA board seats are not the only important leadership positions in the cooperative movement.

Currently, NASCUS is looking for a new leader and CUNA Mutual has named a new CEO from its internal ranks. Soon, CUNA will be searching for a successor to Bill Cheney.

Because of their democratic foundations, member-sponsored, member-supported cooperatives are in a distinct position to benefit from leadership. But effective leadership is more than management. It requires a vision that understands the past and the legacies passed forward to future generations. That vision provides inspiration, hope, and excitement about the future.

Here, Randy Karnes, CEO of CU*Answers, offers his thoughts on the best way to fulfill the CEO opening at CUNA. His challenge in how to fill this role, however, also applies to NASCUS, CUNA Mutual, and other vacancies in the cooperative system.

The most important step is Karnes call for dialogue.Fire up yourvoice so we can all learn from one other’s perspectives what kind of leadership we are looking for.

Karnes has started the dialogue. Credit Union Times editor Heather Anderson has provided a valuable perspective. Now it is your turn. Please send us your comments about what leadership of cooperatives requires.

Needed: A Change Of Direction And Disruptive Force

I could not agree more with the CU Times article CUNA Search More Than Just Replacing Cheney. By picking a new leader, CUNA needs to change its direction and drive to be a disruptive force in the financial services community. Although author Heather Anderson primarily focuses on the viewpoint of millennials, I think CUNA must also break from recent tradition and return to being the catalyst for local organizations to thrive. In other words, move away from the elegant lobbyist tactics that massage the status quo of both those who fuel contributions and those who feed on them politically. Much like our country’s politics of late, CUNA now seems to feel that a dominating centralized control of the message is the best path to scaled influence and for getting things done.But cooperatives are not about a one-size-fits-all message or vision impressed upon everyone disregarding the diversity and opportunities of our peers.

CUNA needs leadership that can fuel the local enthusiasm of individuals in every state, push for states to build local responses and economies that drive cooperatives, and speak out for what cooperatives mean to our economic system and to the people that personify them. Lead on inspiring everyone to live and own one. CUNA needs to drive the message of customer-owned efforts and push the message that we are different into every lobbyist message we take to the wall hoping for success.

Break With The Mechanics Of Banking

The new leader should take from the millennial’s passion to look for new solutions from the networked world and redefine itself and our trade’s role in our industry’s future. CUNA could be a voice for a shift in the way we organize, invest in solutions, and design solutions. Not through its sociopolitical, lowest common denominator, conflict avoidance-mindset; but instead to align with the most entrepreneurial spirit it can inspire in us all. It must push us to invest, to start new firms, to align as customer-owners in a new way that challenges regulation and examiners to keep up, that inspires politicians to see the power in customer-owner lobbies and to allow us all to use the promise of the firms millennials highlight as the future of financial services. Break with the mechanics of banking and align with the mechanics of new economies from small towns to the largest while recognizing that these examples will be diverse in the speed of change based on the ownership’s will and not just through a central plan’s approved vision for what is relevant or the standard.

A Leader In Diversification And Catalyst For Cooperative Success

The next CUNA leader must marry the success of the old credit union industry with the promise of the new one by breaking the mold and rushing toward consumer power models and not the false promise of consumer protection baked in Washington. It would be better for CUNA to split up and vest a hundred voices on this task than to merge and further align us all with the passive, quiet, and manipulated social construct it spends our money on today. The new leader should not be a consolidation manager but a leader in diversification, startups, and a catalyst for cooperative financial power and success. Not through CUNA’s power, but through the power it ensures in credit unions.

Now is a time of transition a time to look at the role of our institutions, the intent of leadership, and the hopes of customer-owners to build win-wins as both owners and customers. No one should be immune from the wave of redesign, challenges to their intent, or to their responses to the emergence of new models for collaboration and cooperative execution if they wear the tag of owner, customer, or industry professional in the credit union industry. Fire up your voice!

March 3, 2014

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