Tuesday, May 28, 2013

3 Traits of a Great Credit Union Leader

There are some CEOs who are pretty good, then there are those who weave their personality and vision into the fabric of an organization, creating a lasting legacy. A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting the CEO of Ascentra Credit UnionPaul Lensmeyer (as a bonus, he is a huge Green Bay Packer fan). Ascentra Credit Union has 10 locations in the greater Quad Cities Area. 

Paul Lensmeyer, Ascentra Credit Union, CUNA leader, Iowa Credit Union

I also had the honor of working with the great team at Ascentra in a consulting capacity, and they displayed excellence at every level. Last week Paul passed away, but his memory will continue to live on. Paul was a dedicated family man and a great leader. Here are 3 great leadership traits that every great leader (including Paul) display every day:

1. Realize that your work family is just that...a family. 
When an employee enjoyed success inside or outside of work, they were eager to share it with Paul, who always lent an eager ear. He was also a voice of encouragement when times got tough. If you needed a cheerleader, he was there; if you needed a kick in the butt to accomplish your goal, he was there as well.

2. Weave a vision into the fabric of your organization and reinforce that vision continuously. 
Like many CEOs, Paul could boil down the most complex ideas into bite-sized sayings and action items. Keep your mission simple and repeatable. Ascentra's mission of "Listening, Caring, Doing What's Right" embodies just that.

3. Engage your community!
No one builds a business alone. Your community must be reminded that you are on their side. The best local banks and credit unions make it a point to help a sick or injured customer or member when times were tough (See my previous post on Business Awesomeness), they'll involve their people into community events, and will generate goodwill in their community.


Whatever your business may be, strong leadership principles and hard work will help shape it into everything it can become. The true test of a great leader is how something runs when they are not there. Paul will be missed by many people, but his legacy will live for generations to come.

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