Here you are, nearing the end of Q1 and things haven’t gone according to (strategic) plan. At this point, it’s a document that’s collected dust as you’ve put out fires with no time to focus on strategy and leadership. I can say that you’re not alone. I’ve been there personally, and over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Thankfully, I’ve taken a lot of notes. I’ve had great coaches help me get out of the strategic rut, and in turn, I’ve helped dozens of credit union leaders get out of that same rut. Here are 3 common reasons I see credit union strategic plans stall:
- A micro-manager is in charge. If you look around your leadership team and don’t see one, it could be you. It’s easy to see when others are doing it, but it’s not so easy to self-reflect and see when YOU are the problem!
A micro-manager can slowly and quietly derail your strategic plan by insisting that everything flows through them. All decisions must be made by one person. At some point, the micro-manager becomes overwhelmed, and their plate so full of things to review and decisions to make or approve, that progress grinds to a screeching halt. They freak, and then freeze due to the size of their task list.
- You may be a legacy credit union CEO who has watched your credit union grow in asset size a good bit since your first day on the job. Or you may be a freshman credit union CEO stepping into a seasoned credit union trying to navigate “the way things have always been done” when it comes to decision-making. As organizations mature, the decision-making process isn’t quite as nimble, risk becomes a little less tolerable, and what might have sounded good in your credit union strategic planning session starts to give you a little heartburn. Sure, slowing down a little can help gain an excellent perspective and avoid costly failures, but you can’t allow paralysis by analysis to set in. One thing I always do during credit union strategic planning sessions I facilitate is to actually list what could very well go wrong and hold us back from success when we talk about strategic initiatives. And then we discuss how to work with those issues.
- Exhaustion has set in. You may be a dynamic leader with progressive ideas and always on the move. You’ve got big ideas and always changing priorities based on what feels right at the moment. Being nimble is one thing, but continuously switching priorities leads to confusion and exhaustion from your team members. Unless something impactful and unanticipated happens (hello, COVID?), stick to your plan. Be flexible but stick to your credit union strategic plan.
Does any of this sound familiar? Are you guilty in any or some of these areas? You’re not alone, and you’re not a bad leader. My guess is you’re probably a great leader that cares – a lot. You just need to recognize the impact you’re having on your credit union and your team and adjust accordingly.
Let your team surprise you with just how capable they are by giving them a little latitude. Stop overthinking things and decide. Stay focused on your goals and strategic plan and avoid flitting around from one idea to another with no end in sight. You can do it, and I’m here to help if you need that extra push.