The Chief Executive Institute, 2016

A Look Back

The Chief Executive Institute, a leadership development program for newly seated CEO’s or successors, has concluded its inaugural year with nine participants. Founded by The Center for Credit Union Leadership, the program is designed to deepen decision-making and problem-solving skills, and cultivate leaders’ ability to operate strategically within volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments.

Using the Baldrige Excellence Framework, the program is hands-on and pragmatic, offering new CEO’s a place where they can address tough questions about growth, sustainability, technology, leadership, and attracting and nurturing new talent.

The intensive curriculum meets for five 2-day sessions that span the course of the year. As this year’s program drew to a close, we took the opportunity to talk with participants about their experience to evaluate its success and understand how we could make it even better in 2017.

Creating Growth

The Chief Executive Institute offers participants a framework from which to identify opportunities for growth and helps them develop processes to initiate that growth. During the course of this year’s program, one CEO realized that there was more he needed to do to provide his senior management team with enough development opportunities and was able to formulate a leadership training plan as a result. Another executive identified someone with particular promise on his management team and decided to provide them with opportunities to grow into a powerful leader.

Yet another shared how he’s improving the visibility of his credit union’s vision in a way that impacts their day-to-day operations and is moving them forward. “For a new CEO, one of the most important questions we have to answer is how we’re going to accomplish our goals. This framework has given us the roadmap to accomplish them and the tools to be successful.”

It’s All About Our Members

Another primary focus of the Institute is to evaluate how well day-to-day operations are serving members. One of this year’s participants reflected on the importance of looking at the member experience from the member’s perspective and incorporating those insights directly into their strategic plan. He said that their strategic planning now begins with this question: “What is it we are here to do for our members and how can we meet their needs?”

Another commented, We completely redid our planning session after this CEI session and now it’s more about ideas than about action planning.  Now we ask, ‘What do members want?’”

Breaking Down Silos

While the Institute was created for Credit Union executives, the program also creates opportunities to network and learn from CEO’s in other industries. This year’s participants felt this part of the program was extremely beneficial. “It’s easy to get into a situation where we’re working in a silo that doesn’t include valuable ideas from other industries. It’s useful to learn about what other industries are doing well so that we can pull that into our own philosophy and do even better for our members.”

Innovation is critical to any organization’s survival, and talking with executives outside the credit union industry offered ideas about how to change processes in ways that foster and create innovation. To date, this is the best program I’ve found that focuses on the employee, and the member, and the systems that will allow us to be more innovative, focused, and efficient.”

A Proven Framework for Success

The heart of the Chief Executive Institute is The Baldrige Framework because of its proven ability to help leaders reach strategic goals, improve results, become more competitive, and transform their organization into a dynamic, customer-centric structure with greater clarity of focus on core values, mission, and vision.

“I’m most excited about the long term benefits. This isn’t an overnight process. But we can see where it’s brought other credit unions and are very excited about where Baldrige is going to take us. At the end of the day, we want to be successful, so why wouldn’t we start with something that’s been proven to drive success?”

Many participants shared how they are using succinct, strategic, goal oriented tools acquired during the program, to replace strategic planning methods that are no longer relevant to future goals. They also learned how to succinctly present strategic planning to their board and leadership team and processes to capture valuable organization knowledge, documenting it so that it be transferred.

“Moving our knowledge from out of the heads of one or two people into sustainable procedures it is critical for us to have the knowledge correct and the best way to do it.”

Looking Forward to 2017

While this year’s program was an exciting success, we also learned a great deal along the way and those participating in 2017 will experience an even more strategically developed program.

If you are a newly seated CEO or successor, I invite you to apply on the Mountain West Credit Union Association website.

About Dan Finerty

Dan Finerty is the Director of Marketing at the Mountain West Credit Union Association, a Credit Union champion, a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE), and an award-winning marketer. Dan has over 14 years of marketing experience in communications, retail, packaged goods, and, of course, Credit Unions. He believes that Credit Unions have an incredible story to tell and works with some of the brightest Credit Union professionals to help promote Credit Unions to the public. Dan holds two Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing and in Management. He is also a swell guy.

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