First Credit Union (FCU) has grown considerably in recent years and now has approximately 140 employees, nine branches, spanning six communities. In the past eight years the number of employees has tripled, retail locations quadrupled, administrative functions centralized, and the company has invested considerable effort into the expansion of its insurance, and wealth management services. While this growth has strengthened the organization financially, the organization has become more complex and strategic and operational leadership demands have increased significantly.
Through the 2020 visioning process, FCU leaders identified ‘leadership’, ‘customers’, and ‘competition’ as the primary forces which will drive change for the organization in the years ahead. Related research shows that strategic leadership as well as operational leadership capacity is critical to overall organizational success (Blanchard, 2009). There is a delicate balance between building an organization which is lean and adaptable, with one that has a strong social fabric and corporate culture.
Organizational coaching is believed to be one of the most strategic and tactical leadership practices used by businesses today (O’Shaughnessy, 2001). The coaching process engages the untapped potential within people and the organization by focusing energy on key performance objectives (Crane, 2002). Fostering a ‘coach’ approach to leadership would lead to increased accountability, confidence, goal orientation, engagement, and alignment with FCU vision.
Creating an organization that is successful and effective is an inside-out proposition. The quality of the culture, the quality of management practices, and the alignment of these practices to key strategic initiatives rests with leadership (Blanchard, 2009).
Sandra McDowell, MA, PCC
Author Sandra McDowell is a Certified Executive Coach with a Masters in Leadership and a Certificate in NeuroLeadership, and Vice-President Communications & Culture for First Credit Union & Insurance.