Enter the danger zone: How to face your worst problems

When I think of the “danger zone,” my brain automatically leaps to Top Gun. Besides riding a cool motorcycle and playing beach volleyball, Tom Cruise’s Maverick literally enters dangerous life-or-death scenarios. And while you’re not flying a plane or being shot at, your credit union might have its very own danger zone.

What do I mean?

I mean your credit union could have an unsolvable problem no one is willing to touch. A problem everyone knows about but nobody talks about. An elephant in the room.

Without anyone broaching the subject, this problem may stall your credit union’s growth. I’ve seen it happen too many times when working with credit union leaders.

But here’s the good news: there are strategies to build bravery, enter the danger zone and solve your credit union’s most pressing problems.

Make a Plan

Spur of the moment bravery looks great in the movies, but it’s hard in reality. If you must address a difficult issue, map out how you’re going to do it.

Planning will help you build bravery, form a solid argument and self-reflect. Self-reflection matters because it makes you examine your motives. Are you bringing this up to advance your career? Or is it to improve your credit union?

Here are a couple other questions to help you plan:

  • Should I gather evidence?
  • Are most other leaders thinking the same thing?
  • Am I in the minority?
  • When’s the right time and place?
  • What reactions should I expect?
  • What will happen if I don’t address this issue?

That last question is incredibly important. If leaving the issue alone dooms the credit union, you must put any hesitancy aside and discuss the problem. And remember: other people are more willing to discuss the problem than you think. They’re just scared to bring it up too!

Work Together

Psychological studies show groups of three, four or five people solve problems better than someone working alone. Each person contributes their unique strengths, and the group refines individual ideas.

Plus, there’s strength in numbers. It’s easier to act courageously when you know you have back-up. Teamwork is also not only better at resolving the most challenging problems; it’s often necessary.

For example, it’ll take a group of board members to remove an ineffective CEO. Or if you are the CEO, you might want fellow C-suites providing corroborating evidence before acting against a different executive.

Get An Outside Perspective

Sometimes we can’t be brave. Maybe it would put our job at risk. Maybe our colleagues would shun us. Whatever the reason, it truly is impossible to handle the situation in-house.

That’s where an outside perspective can help. An outside consultant can speak truth to power or pierce organizational blindness. They enter the danger zone when you can’t.

But what qualities should they have?

Most importantly, they’re people of integrity. They serve you, not their own business goals. A good consultant needs to tell you, “This may be the last time we do business together, but I have to tell you the truth.” Because ultimately, consultants live to help solve your problems (even the humongous elephant problems).

Even though I look nothing like Tom Cruise, I’ve personally entered the danger zone many times. And breaking the silence around a problem always helped my clients grow. If you need a similar outside perspective, email me. I often do leadership trainings and strategic planning sessions where we tackle these intense issues.

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: www.markarnold.com Details