It is no secret that the culture of your credit union can make or break your success. A good culture can help differentiate you from competitors, help you keep talented employees and attract new ones, reach your growth goals more quickly and so much more.
While developing an organizational culture can take years to see the fruits of your labor, it really can start with one person – you. And if you manage people, there is one leadership style that I have seen that shuts down even your top-performing employees. I call this type of leader the Culture Killer.
There tends to be one of these types of leaders in every credit union and, in a lot of instances, they are actually a really fun part of the team whom everyone loves personally. But as a leader, they focus only on the negative. What hasn’t been done. How that person could have been better. What wasn’t done the way you would have done it personally. These types of behavior by themselves will kill your culture.
I have experienced this personally. As a perfectionist and self-proclaimed over-achiever, I was always striving for the stars no matter what project I was working on or goal I was trying to hit. But once I worked for someone who didn’t understand that being a good leader is being a person’s champion, and I felt very quickly like all this person cared about doing was finding things I was doing wrong so they could point them out to me.
Conversations often started with, “First of all, this is wrong,” even if I was asking about where we wanted to order lunch. I was repeatedly questioned on why I did something a different way even though the end result was correct. And over time, I noticed myself focusing more on how I could keep this person off my back and less on how I could do a good job in my position. I stopped being a great employee. I stopped taking pride in what I was doing because I was so stressed out about keeping my boss happy.
Leadership is an art, and becoming a good leader is just like starting a physical training program; it requires consistent use of a bunch of different muscles and a lot of practice to become fit. Don’t just see your subordinates as a list of things you asked them to do.
Remember first and foremost that they are human beings. Recognize the good in what they are doing. Show them you care about them. Give them the chance to screw up sometimes because those are the best learning experiences. Help them get better by clearly communicating your expectations beforehand, and showing them how what they did could be even better next time.