Recommended Reading (1Q 2020)

Callahan’s associates offer their take on the best books for credit union leaders.

Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind

by Yuval Noah Harari

Summary: Four hundred dense pages takes readers on a brief, factual road trip through human history.

The author, a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a doctorate in history from Oxford, gives context to human evolution, from cognitive development to scientific revolution while discussing the monetary systems therein. Two chapters in particular The Scent of Money and The Capitalist Creed will resonate with readers of Credit Union Strategy & Performance.

Review: Sapiens traces every step of human progress, including the creation of the first monetary system by the Sumerians in 3,000 B.C. That system involved barley carried by bucket. As Hariri explains, money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised. It’s a system contingent on social, political, and ideological systems, which explains why the stock market can rise or fall depending on the way traders feel in a particular morning.

If it’s true that money has allowed billions of people of different geographies and social backgrounds to cooperate, it has also fostered humanity’s worst impulses. Money corrodes human values with the cold laws of supply and demand, Harari says. Although money builds universal trust between strangers, we do not trust the stranger or the next-door neighbor we trust the coin they hold.

Harari fears the world is in danger of becoming one big and rather heartless marketplace. Those words ring even louder today than when they were first published in 2015. For credit union leaders looking to better understand how today’s financial system came to be, as well as how they can inject some heart into a heartless market, I recommend this book.

Sergio Coimbra, Office Coordinator, Callahan & Associates

Scaling Leadership

by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams

Summary: How do senior executives describe the most effective leaders the ones who get results, grow the business, enhance the culture, and develop others? Scaling Leadership provides a proven framework for magnifying agile and scalable leadership in your organization by creating an environment where people can lead one another. Scalable leadership creates forward momentum by multiplying high-achieving leaders at scale so that growth, productivity, and innovation increase exponentially. Creative leaders multiply their strengths beyond technical competence by leading with radical humanity, passion, and integrity.

Review: Scaling Leadership is the second of two leadership books from the authors, and I found it refreshingly confronting. As I looked for strategies to develop bench strength within my own teams, I was struck by the concept of conscious leadership. Conscious leadership asks those in charge to bring awareness to their position: How can every conversation and interaction deliberately better the capability and capacity of a team member?

This and other concepts from the book have the clear potential to drive meaningful outcomes for individuals and companies alike. But as I paused to reflect from a personal and organizational perspective, a nagging discomfort surfaced honest questions: What we are we scaling into? Or, for? How do we successfully evaluate when and where to place our bets? Does scaling past our current role leave us exposed?

Previous successes can lull leaders into a false sense of security, causing them to rinse and repeat rather than rethink and retool. The authors compel teams to reinvent themselves during these volatile and ever-changing times. Neither quick nor easy, the process creates tension the gap between our aspirations and current reality where the only way out is through. This type of conscious leadership encourages us to be radically human and vulnerable as we embark on this journey together.

Tim Taylor, Vice President, Advisory Services, Callahan Associates

This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy Performance. Read More Today.

June 30, 2020

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