The curious leader: Unlocking success in credit unions through questions and active listening

In today’s fast-paced credit union landscape, senior leaders often find themselves engrossed in strategy, performance metrics, and financial outcomes. However, an essential yet frequently overlooked aspect of effective leadership is the trio of curiosity, insightful questioning, and active listening. These aren’t mere add-ons but foundational elements for building high-performance teams and achieving organizational success.

Curiosity catalyzes innovation

When leaders display genuine curiosity, they inspire their teams to explore new avenues for improving services, products, and processes. This mindset also helps in risk mitigation by encouraging leaders to question the status quo, thereby identifying potential pitfalls before they escalate into significant issues.

The power of asking questions cannot be overstated

Questions like “How does this align with our strategic goals?” ensure that efforts are channeled in the right direction. Queries such as “What challenges are you facing?” or “How can I support you?” contribute to a culture of engagement and accountability. Moreover, maintaining a customer focus through questions like “How will this benefit our members?” is crucial in an industry where customer satisfaction is paramount.

Active listening is the unsung hero of effective leadership

By actively listening, leaders can gather diverse perspectives, leading to more informed and nuanced decisions. This skill also plays a vital role in employee retention; when employees feel heard, they are more likely to stay with the organization, thereby reducing turnover costs. Furthermore, active listening is invaluable for conflict resolution, as it helps defuse tension and leads to more constructive outcomes.

So, what questions should every credit union leader be asking?

Ask frontline staff, “What feedback are you hearing from our members?” For middle management, “What resources do you need to meet your departmental goals?” is a pertinent question. At the executive level, “How are we progressing on our strategic initiatives?” can provide valuable insights. And a question that applies to everyone is, “What’s one thing we could do better?”

To implement these principles, leaders should be fully present during meetings, devoid of distractions, and focused on the conversation at hand. Following up on questions with actionable steps based on the feedback received is equally essential. Lastly, creating a safe space for open dialogue encourages employees at all levels to share their thoughts and ideas without fear of ridicule or retribution.

Adopting a mindset of curiosity, mastering the art of asking the right questions, and practicing active listening are essential for personal development and critical for the credit union’s long-term success and competitiveness. Integrating these skills into your leadership style will drive performance and foster a culture that values each employee’s contribution, ultimately leading to a more prosperous and engaged organization.

John Spence

John Spence

John Spence is widely regarded as one of the top executive coaches and business experts in the world. Over the past 15 years John has helped several credit unions to ... Web: Details