3 Philosophies from Coaching: From sports to credit unions

by: Rob Lefkowicz, Service Center Manager, Suncoast Schools FCU & The Cooperative Trustby: Rob Lefkowicz, Service Center Manager, Suncoast Schools FCU & The Cooperative Trust

PROFESSIONAL SPORTS- Brand recognition, passion, and inspiration the credit union industry wishes we had.  Resource for leadership, technology, and development?  I think so.

Looking back from the “Big Game”, there are countless coaching and leadership philosophies that can be brought over from the sporting world to the credit union arena.  We’ll leave the mindless clichés of “Usually the team who scores the most points wins” or “Play like a champion today” for posters and motivational speaking for another article.  Let’s look at real change agents that work on the field as well as the corner office.  Three coaching and leadership philosophies from the sports arenas which we should utilize are successful top down leadership, leveraging data, and personal development.

Top Down Leadership
The most successful sports organizations have a committed, dynamic, and passionate top down leader.  Mr. Robert Craft, owner of the New England Patriots, is a prime example.  Mr. Craft leads with integrity, continuity, and accountability while living the mission and vision of his organization.  A community partner, industry driver, and player advocate, Mr. Craft sets the example for his organization.  Our industry and organizational leaders can provide the same direction for their teams every day.  One example of this type of top down leadership in our industry can be seen in Mr. Rudy Hanley, recipient of the 2011 NCUF Lifetime Achievement award, of Schools First FCU.  Mr. Hanley leads by example, surrounds himself with a motivated team, and provides positive member-centric leadership to his organization.  Whether leading from the corner office, support team areas, or local service centers, we can all wear the vision and mission of our organizations like Mr. Craft and Mr. Hanley.

Leveraging Data
Understanding and leveraging data has become as important in our industry as the sporting world.  Joe Maddon, of the Tampa Bay Rays, has employed the use of Sabermetrics to lead his small market club to compete against teams spending three and four times more a year on players.  Our industry is not that different; maximizing output from limited resources.  Credit unions need to leverage the data our members give us through surveys, secret shopper programs, electronic delivery channels, and traffic trends to cater to their needs.  Trusting and using the data can improve efficiencies by directing our processes to meet member needs.  Also, the sheer volume and real time accessibility of data allows our organizations to be more flexible to address member needs and preferences.  Data collection and analysis can be a daunting and a time consuming task, so look to industry experts such as the Filene Research Institute and Callahan and Associates, as well as your cooperative relationships for help getting started.  Understandably, it may take a small army of statisticians to compile and analyze ALL of our membership data so chose the areas that are most relevant and useful to you.

Personal Development
Recruiting and developing the right team members, along with quality management, allows us to reach our industry and organizational goals.  Does the coach make the player or does the player make the coach?  The coaching carousel driven by win now or else expectations of professional sports might lead you to think that everything falls on the coach.  There are certainly points to support this assumption; however the answer is something different.  Coaches must have the skills to teach and develop while the players need to have the ability and talents to preform.  Who is Phil Jackson without Michael Jordan?  There are countless other coach/player comparisons, but the point is they needed each other to be successful.   The same can be said of our industry.  There are a growing number of industry examples such as The Cooperative Trust, Servus Credit Union’s Young Leaders Network led by Devin Selte, and the many young professional groups springing up across the country.  Each of these personnel development pieces are providing starting points to bring in and develop a core group of leaders and high performers at our organizations.  Once the potential and passion are identified, it is our responsibility to develop them into the superstars of our industry.

Watch a game, read a paper, listen to AM sports talk radio.  You’ll hear the coaching and leadership philosophies that have made dynasties of organizations, champions of teams, and legends of leaders.  Top down leadership, leveraging data, and relationship building are just a few.  Let’s bring these ideas into our credit union world to help meet our goals of championship quality services to our members.

Rob Lefkowicz is a service center manager with Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa, FL.  Rob began his credit union career after graduating from Western Michigan University at OMNI Community CU in Battle Creek, MI.  After moving to Suncoast Schools FCU, Rob moved through the member representative positions to become a service center manager.  He is responsible for his service centers’ operations while working on credit union advocacy, employee development, and member satisfaction.  

While at Suncoast, Rob has earned multiple CUNA Certified Executive program certifications and has also completed his Masters in Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  Rob is an active member of the Cooperative Trust, young credit union professional advocate, Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, and volunteers for multiple community advocacy groups.

The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots group of young people working in credit unions and cooperatives. Founded in 2010, they connect and enable those fighting for the future of socially-responsible finance. For more info, or to join, visit them at trust.coop

Rob Lefkowicz

Rob Lefkowicz

Rob is responsible for his service centers’ operations while working on credit union advocacy, employee development, and member satisfaction. Rob has earned multiple CUNA Certified Executive program certifications and has ... Web: www.suncoastfcu.orgwww.trust.coop Details