Credibility, momentum, and a little bit of “luck”

Teams rarely succeed without a clear vision and hard work. Yet, I firmly believe leaders aiming for success also need to establish credibility, build momentum, and create a bit of luck. I saw this play out during my 25-year Air Force career and see the same dynamic as a leader within the credit union industry and at the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC).

While in uniform, many highlights had a profound effect on my leadership philosophy. Among the most instructive were some of the highly effective teams I either led or played a key role in such as:

  • Delivering the B-2 weapon system training system ahead of schedule AND under budget (very rare)
  • Commanding the only squadron out of 19 to receive an “outstanding” rating on a critical operational readiness inspection (very difficult to do)
  • Changing assumptions and renegotiating contracts to yield 50% savings in a crucial, multi-billion-dollar readiness account (unprecedented with many naysayers)

None of this would have been possible without establishing credibility, building momentum, and creating our own “luck.” Here is how they work together.

Establishing credibility

You cannot establish credibility if people do not trust you. This is much more than simply being an honest person. It requires a lot of work and time to build trust.

First, leaders need to keep in touch with the issues and concerns of others. It is about being authentic and emotive so people can move from transactional to relational. Leading from “phoning it in” will never suffice. This means taking the time to resolve conflicts, demonstrate concern, and establishing a balance between getting results and achieving consensus.

Second, building credibility also requires becoming well-informed and demonstrating thorough knowledge of relevant issues. This leads to better judgment and sound decisions. As one gains experience, better anticipation, and a knack for knowing when to quickly pivot on major issues usually becomes second nature.

Finally, building credibility requires consistency and accountability. Consistency over time leads to predictability and sense of security. Predictability in terms of temperament, core values, and instinct—not how a leader will make strategic decisions. Plus, keeping your promises and delivering results are key to showing those you are leading you are accountable and thus credible in your role.

Building momentum

Momentum is always a must on the path to success. No strategy ever succeeds without it. Yet, creating and sustaining momentum are some of the hardest things required of leaders. There are several requirements if you want to build momentum.

First, be prepared to spend an enormous amount of energy to overcome the status quo. Picture a rowing team of eight as they begin a competitive race. All the major muscle groups (i.e., quads, biceps, triceps, lats, glutes, and abs) strain to get going. Likewise, every member of the team needs to fire up their efforts when starting towards a goal.

Second, once momentum is established, sustaining it requires steady leadership and working in unison. When watching a rowing team, their synchronized rowing often appears effortless. Spectators know it’s not, but it’s always inspiring to see each rower sharing the same drive and commitment to building that momentum as a team. Especially when they begin to pull ahead of the competition. Keep your head in the game and always continue pressing forward towards your goals.

Finally, don’t lose momentum. It is essentially going backwards. And resets require the same amount of energy as starting towards a goal. What’s different with a reset is your team is already tired, likely disheartened, and might start to question whether the goal is worth the continued effort. Leaders must condition their team members to sustain and quicken the pace.

Creating a bit of “luck”

I don’t necessarily believe in luck per se. However, “coincidence” is somewhat different. The only “coincidence” that matters is when proper preparation coincides with the right timing. When leaders get this right, the results can be staggering. The key is to forecast the right trends and drive your team’s preparation on a course to intersect. This is what I mean by “creating your own luck.”

To use another sports analogy, let’s think of hockey. It might look like player skating to where the puck is going to be or being properly positioned to catch or shoot a no-look pass.  To the uninformed, it will seem that this player is out of position, or if a goal was made, that player “was very lucky.” Yet, to those looking to the future, it shows foresight and proper training.

Looking back, I don’t account for much of the success I witnessed or secured for my team as being “lucky.”  All I see is a lot of hard work, overcoming obstacles, and prayer coupled with dedication to a vision. I don’t just pray for success but also for the courage and strength to stay the course (momentum).

The road ahead

DCUC has experienced incredible success over the years. Our trade association has grown from its humble beginnings in 1963 to now representing over a quarter of the industry! In recent years, DCUC has transformed itself into a world-class organization and, just like the hockey player, is positioned to become a stronger voice within the industry. What was once a small trade association is now rowing with momentum to become the second-largest credit union trade association in America!

As for the future, if you have been paying attention, DCUC is already making some big changes in the way we operate on behalf of our Nation’s military and veterans and the credit unions serving these communities.

We have the credibility, we have momentum, and we are already creating our own “luck.” We invite you to join us in building something spectacular while we continue championing the credit union movement on behalf of our service members and veterans!


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Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC).  He joined DCUC as its Chief Operating Officer in August 2016 and was selected ... Web: Details