This one is for our unsung heroes

There are many awards and recognitions within the credit union space, lots of opportunities for credit unions to recognize great efforts and outcomes. The stories of these awardees are inspiring and motivate us to reach for more. No matter how many opportunities for public recognition there are, there aren’t enough to shine a light on all our worthy heroes. And even if we were able to recognize everyone who deserved it, many if not most would shy away from the attention.

Alison and I are blessed to spend 100 percent of our time interacting with credit union teams across the credit union spectrum: large, medium, small, rural, urban, state, federal, international – you get the idea. A common theme among all credit union group types is an abundance of recognition-worthy heroes. The opportunity to see the passion, learning, stretching, growing, and herculean effort to do what is right is a constant source of inspiration for our team. There are too many “for instances” to share – we could literally write a book about the remarkable leadership and service examples.

Thank you for inspiring us

To all the leaders who have quietly overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds, those who:

  • Fell down trying to do the right thing and managed to get back up again, dust themselves off, and fight another day;
  • Carry on, even when they might feel underappreciated or undervalued by their boards;
  • Wear so many hats and are spread so thin because they care about their teams and their members;
  • Literally chase down members and staff, spending time they don’t have to make a difference;
  • Are the first ones in and the last ones to leave nearly every single day;
  • Draw a line in the sand for the right things because their values are non-negotiable;
  • Jump in, fill in and are always the first to raise their hand when a volunteer is needed;
  • Press on in challenging cultures, committed to make a difference;
  • Take risks to accomplish the right things for their members and their teams;
  • Navigate internal and environmental challenges to overcome capital, earnings, regulatory and human resources obstacles that most thought were impossible.

You know who you are. Thank you for inspiring us. Thank you for reminding all of us why we do what we do and why this work matters. Thank you for making a meaningful difference in the lives of your teams, the lives of your members, and the quality of life for those in your communities.

Why it matters

Credit unions are in the people business. A successful and vibrant credit union movement requires extraordinary people who are willing to push the envelope, work through tough challenges, volunteer as much as possible, and take a stand when necessary. These behaviors are at the core of our credit union movement. They have never been more visible or relevant than now, during a global pandemic. During these challenging times, servant leadership and the tenacity to do hard things have blessed the lives of millions.

On their own, technology and world-class marketing will not give credit unions the edge needed for long-term relevance. It’s simple: it’s time to double down on people helping people. 

Leaders who embody the core values of credit unions and can consistently inspire action are our clearest strategic advantage. It’s these values, leaders, and behaviors that will give us the edge as we compete for relevance in people’s lives.

If you haven’t recently, I encourage you to look around you. Take a moment to personally recognize someone who is behind the scenes, “doin’ the doin.’” Go out of your way to encourage someone who is struggling, fighting to make a difference. Reach out and let someone know you notice all that they are trying to do and, if you can, pitch in to help lighten their load. Personal recognition goes a long way to lift spirits, and it encourages the heart to keep going. Your attention today, to someone who deserves it, will be long remembered and will make a difference.