“Let’s also say that change is neither good nor bad. It simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy: a tantrum that says, ‘I want it the way it was!’ or a dance that says, ‘Look! Something new.’”
Those were the words straight from Don Draper in an old Mad Men episode. As I reflect on conversations I have with credit union leaders, that quote rings so true. As a board chair of a credit union experiencing a lot of change, I remind myself of that quote when things get hairy or seem overwhelming.
This year I’ve opened almost every credit union strategic planning session with a few slides outlining the merger madness credit unions are experiencing right now, followed immediately by stats that show just how fast fintechs are growing and just how much we as credit unions are lagging behind. And not just behind in technology, but for the first time, we’re lagging behind banks in service!
I can easily divide credit union leaders into the haves and the have-nots. Those credit unions that are green and growing greet change with the dance that says, “Look! Something new!” The credit unions I see that are overly ripe and rotting greet change with a tantrum screaming, “I want it the way it was!” Do you greet change with joy or terror?
I’m very often asked, “What is the secret to your credit union clients that are successful?” It’s really simple. Their success boils down to how they deal with change. You can choose to see the events of life, personal and professional, as neither good nor bad, just reality. That’s part one. The second part is the most important: It’s making these events good. It’s seeing it not just as change that must be dealt with, but as a brand-new opportunity.
I usually can immediately tell if a credit union leader is at the helm of a growing credit union or a rotting credit union by their response. If they dig in with more curiosity, wanting to more about this change thing, they’ll do well. If they dig in with their heels and say, ‘That’s hogwash,’ I’m always tempted to send them merger documents to help them avoid the slow, painful death of their credit union.
As you reflect on the last nine months, how have you dealt with change at your credit union? As you reflect on your strategic plans for the next year, how are you going to deal with change? Will, you choose joy or terror? Remember the words from that famous philosopher popular in the late ’90s, Sheryl Crow: “A change, would do you good.”
When you’re ready to talk change, I’m here.