Recently, a leadership guru was discussing what it takes to be a great leader. I’m always intrigued by the guru’s “novel” approach to identifying leadership. The conversation is usually presented in a manner that leads one to believe that a five-point plan is the silver bullet we’ve all patiently awaited. If I added up all the five-point plans I’ve come across during my professional career, I would have a 500-point plan of which very few, if any, of the points would be repeated.
One point that I do believe is an essential trait to great leadership is passion. Well, good news for our members…St. Louis Community Credit Union is loaded with leaders. Let me share with you why the passion displayed at every level in our organization is absolutely extraordinary.
As employees, we don’t get rich working in credit unions. Our passion for doing the right thing and serving people is what drives us to work every day. Our almost 90 employees have a deep concern and genuine care for every member. It is a real pleasure to lead so many people who move in lockstep to insuring our members’ well-being. Doing the right thing for the member is where the passion begins, and it blossoms from there.
The water fountain discussions, e-mails, meetings, training sessions, and our company newsletters all speak to maintaining a passion for serving our 30,000-plus members. The employees of St. Louis Community know why we exist – to serve our members. Yes, our members are in good hands for years to come because of so many passionate people.
We take the “Community” piece of our name very seriously. During a discussion a few years back, we became crystal clear as to what needed to be done to serve the communities in and around our branch offices. It was a very positive thing to do. After all, we’re in the business of insuring that we improve our members’ standard of living and better their lifestyle.
First, a community’s economic empowerment is born of the residents having more money in their pockets to spend on goods and services found in that community. We like being a part of both reclamation and growth. We do so by pricing our products and services in a way that allows our members to both save and spend more of their hard-earned money in a productive manner. This promotes personal well-being, as well as creates vibrant community health.
Second, in addition to economic empowerment, we have a social responsibility to the communities we serve. Our staff volunteers their time and money to the many causes that spring hope, progress and growth into the many neighborhoods in which we work and live. We love the people and communities we serve, and it is evidenced by our unfailing commitment – both financially and through volunteer service.
I can’t wait to see our members’ feedback on how we’re doing. While most members are pleased with the Credit Union’s efforts, some are not. Those are the ones I really like to review. We study them hard to help gain an understanding of what’s going on in their relationship with the Credit Union. From there, we can begin finding solutions to meet their needs.
A recurring theme is that St. Louis Community Credit Union is not convenient enough for a member’s busy lifestyle. While it’s impossible to put an ATM in everyone’s kitchen or a branch at the end of every block, we continue to attack the need for convenience from a reasonable, caring perspective. We know our members are busy and we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Absolutely, completely FREE debit cards minimize the need for cash – we have 25,000 free ATMs nationwide. Direct deposit eliminates the need to visit an office. FREE home banking allows for complete account access 24/7. FREE E-statements and our web site allow for access to information on the member’s schedule rather than waiting for “snail mail.” FREE bill pay saves time and money. ‘Round-the-clock account access through the MAX phone service adds even more convenience. Plus, we have online loan applications and much more!
We hear you regarding the desire for more branch offices, and we continue to work in that direction. In fact, stay tuned for some exciting news coming soon. However, it’s worth a reminder that the Credit Union will remain focused on convenience in between the roll-out of new office locations in the future.
The word “paradigm” becomes a point of discussion when trends begin changing. In the financial services world, unfortunately, changing trends is a very slow process. But then someone or something usually gets credit for changing the standard way of doing things, and thus is known as a “paradigm shifter.” St. Louis Community Credit Union is just that.
A specific behavior pattern best describes “paradigm,” and the financial services industry is full of predictable behavior. The actions of most financial institutions are the same: do whatever it takes to earn big profits. This profit-driven business model is the most entrenched form of “paradigm.” The approach is simple and timeless: profit, profit, profit…the more, the better.
Since profit is the underlying (and sometimes grossly obvious) motivation, don’t look for most financial institutions to buck the trend anytime soon. “How much money can we make for the stockholders?” becomes the mantra. Unfortunately, this mentality comes at the expense of hard-working, middle-income families.
Then, we appear. St. Louis Community Credit Union is a “paradigm shifter.” We don’t follow everybody’s trends…we create our own. Seriously! Check out our fees compared to others. Lay them side by side. Do the same exercise with rates. Continue with a comparison on minimum balance requirements. You’ll see for yourself…we are a “paradigm shifter,” and you’re a part of it. Sort of makes you feel good, huh?