Keep it human

If there’s ONE thing to focus on today—that’s it. Keep it HUMAN.

CUs have been doing that for a long time. That’s what makes credit unions different, right?

You have members—not customers.

You treat those members as people—not numbers.

Your people are part of your family and together, you’re an important part of the community you serve. And community is people.

But today there are some serious threats to the CU culture.

Competitive technology.



Quiet quitting.

Remote work.

Generational divide.

To effectively lead your people through these challenges, we’ve got to keep it human.

These challenges are not unique to CUs. Most organizations are facing the same issues. Dealing with human limitations like mindset, emotion, risk aversion, uncertainty, conflict, and other messy people problems can be messy, stressful, expensive, and consume a lot of time.

Some of the greatest challenges we face now and in the future stem from our growing dependence on emerging technologies. And the fastest growing concern centers on AI.

How can we use it?

How should we use it?

It’s up to us. Will we allow AI to replace people? Will AI replace us as leaders? Will technology distance us from one another? Or…

Can we use AI to lead more efficiently? Can it give us more time to spend with our people to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships? Can we use it to identify and cultivate our untapped potential and fully realize the talent in the people we work with?

Admiral Grace Hopper said it best: “Management is about things. Leadership is about PEOPLE.” For years we’ve tried to address these leadership problems with management solutions. It doesn’t work.

Keep it human.

People perform at their best when, and only when…

They know their leaders care.

Their work has meaning.

They have the chance to learn, grow, and develop.

Most of all, we’ve got to inspire. Touch people’s hearts—not just their heads.

We’ve got to empower. Make sure people have the tools they need to succeed.

We’ve got to guide. Be willing to share our time, wisdom, and experience—face to face.

We need a conversation. Above all, leadership is sharing. The rest of the conversation is about what you’re willing to share and how.

And this conversation needs to involve everyone—from the front lines to the C-suite.

We lead people. We serve people. Leaders are people too.

We’ve got to keep it human.

How do we get there?

Here are some actions steps to help you “keep it human.” These are simple, but to be effective be sure to follow up. Embed these disciplines in your leadership practice:

  1. Dedicate time for genuine, in-person sessions. These are not performance reviews or mentoring sessions, but rather just time to understand the people you serve and to…
  2. Listen. Sincerely. Solicit input from people at all levels and make a genuine effort to learn and understand their needs, goals, interests, and concerns.
  3. ASK! This goes along with the first two steps. Proactively ask people if they have what they need, if they understand what you’re trying to accomplish together, and if they feel connected to the organization, their leaders, and the mission.
  4. Create and maintain a formal mentoring process. It doesn’t need to be radically formal—too much structure and too many rules can sometimes interfere with genuine human connection. Just make sure people have access to mentoring, that the process is flexible, and that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
  5. Provide face-to-face social opportunities. Especially when people are working remotely, it’s important to provide time and space for people to get together and just get to know one another. Frequency is not as important as consistency.
  6. Be human yourself. One of our most important Sensei Leader Strategies is “Lead by example.” Let the people you serve get to know you as a person too. This is how you earn their authentic respect, trust, and loyalty.

I’ll be expanding on this theme at The CU Leadership Convention July 30 through August 2 in Las Vegas . Going? You can find me on LinkedIn … I’d love to connect!

Jim Bouchard

Jim Bouchard

Jim Bouchard is an internationally recognized speaker, Leadership Activist, and founder of The SENSEI LEADER Movement™. He’s the author of 8 leadership books, and hosts Walking The Walk, a ... Web: Details