Credit unions should view the turbulence of 2020 as a chance to grow and to identify increasingly superior ways to serve members – not as a setback.
That was the message credit union leaders heard at the League of Southeastern Credit Union’s (LSCU) Southeast Leadership Development Conference (SLDC) Virtual Experience on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6. A total of 53 professionals from credit unions affiliated with LSCU gained inspiration from nine speakers and a panel addressing the art of leading through uncertainty.
“We know the past year has been a draining one for our credit unions,” said Maureen Bock, vice president of education at LSCU. “Our hope is that credit union leaders leave our SLDC session with a renewed sense of hope and purpose for the future of both their credit unions and the industry overall.”
Most SLDC speakers acknowledged the challenges 2020 has thrown at credit unions. But Speaker Amy Downs, president and CEO of Allegiance Credit Union, urged attendees to view these challenges as a way to explore their own resilience.
“We’ve all been through difficult times; and it’s been that way since the beginning of times,” Amy said. “Bad things happen, but it’s how you react to them that matters. The key way you should react is with resilience. I believe the best path is not just to bounce back, but to come back even stronger.”
Amy knows better than most about resilience; she was one of the last survivors pulled from the rubble of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed a total of 168 people. The bomb detonated while she was going about her workday as a teller at a credit union. It killed 18 of her 33 co-workers.
Yet Amy – and the credit union – surged onward after the tragedy.
“Those of us that were remaining, we knew one thing: we wanted to survive,” she said. “The bombing was more than one moment and one day. There was a ripple effect that lasted for many years. But despite our grief and overwhelming challenges, we had to get really good at setting goals and action steps. We didn’t have time to play victim. We had to take responsibility for what happened to us.”
Like Amy, the remaining speakers shared their belief that through stellar leadership, credit unions could come out of the challenges of 2020 stronger than ever. They shared expertise and messages of hope in areas including: reaching out to Gen Z, advancing diversity and inclusion in today’s credit unions and the market outlook beyond 2020.
Besides the speakers, attendees also enjoyed four dedicated exhibit hall hours, networking options, virtual cocktails and BINGO, prizes, fun and more – all intended to inspire attendees to tackle the challenges still before them in the year to come.
“We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” said SLDC Speaker Dr. Samuel Jones, CSP – consultant, executive coach and founder/CEO of TransFORM Now Inc. “Being uncomfortable encourages us to continue to stretch and grow. Your members, they need you to be flexible. They need you to become comfortable being uncomfortable – because they need you to help address their ever-changing needs.”
Jill Russell, indirect dealer relationship manager for All In Credit Union, found Amy’s session to be incredibly impactful and felt the information the Gen Z panel shared was valuable for use in the credit union.
“She (Amy) is inspiring and motivating,” Jill explained. “She went through a horrible tragedy, and although it’s painful, she continues to strive for goals while inspiring others and keeping the memory of her dear friends alive.
“I also found that the Gen Z panel was enlightening. It showed us how we need to educate more people on credit unions. Maybe (we should) make more efforts to get into the school system and start some kind of financial education for teens and possibly parents.”
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