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Leadership Matters: 3 Famous Quotes to Help You Manage Year-End

November 2017: Vol 40 No 11
Richard Gallagher
Twain, Jung and Asimov teach how to look forward while peering back.

Clock ticking towards midnight in front of a festive New Year’s Eve backgroundThere are so many things to do before the end of the year: new budgets, policies, mergers, systems, digital, digital, digital and, of course, strategic planning for regulatory compliance. We understand the frustration. With 30-plus years of experience in providing always-compliant forms, finding balance is tough. So how do you do it? How do you strike a balance between managing operations, meeting year-end goals and planning for the new year without the Grinch coming in to ruin Christmas? Here are a few time-tested tips based on quotes from famous people. We are not sure if they will help with your holiday preparations, but they will make a positive impact on your business areas for sure.

1. “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.” This Mark Twain quote speaks to a universal truth: authenticity. It is especially important during this stressful time of year. To be effective with your credit union operations, be consistent. Be results-driven. Be passionate. Let your staff know when you are stressed, and don't forget to let them know when they have exceeded expectations. Being an authentic leader will help your team keep pace for the remainder of the year and set performance expectations for the next. 

2. “Just as we tend to assume the world is as we see it, we naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be.” Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung is credited for this one. On the surface, it is a pretty straightforward observation. Look deeper, though, and you will find a leadership truth. We make a lot of assumptions during the week. We assume that since our staff members are familiar with certain policies or regulations that they should automatically know what to do about them. This is how mistakes are made—costly mistakes. As leaders, it is our job to close knowledge gaps. We may assume there is sun when our staff is in the dark. The key to turning the light on is twofold: First, information sharing must be an organizational focus. Second, close the loop—follow up with department heads, quiz staff members at random and make sure information has been digested. This turns a CEO with adept email skills into a true leader.

3. “Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” Any guesses as to who gave us this little gem? If you guessed sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov, you would be correct. Do yourself a favor, though. Read this quote again. There is a tendency to chuckle upon first reading because we are the leaders. We know what needs to be done. Put yourself at the beginning of the quote, however, and you have a leadership lesson. The only way to effectively look to the future while managing the present is to know your limits. Lean on your staff, and let them do the tasks they do every day. Trust them. They excel in these areas. You don’t want to be an annoyance. Staff should be an asset. You will have a chance to assert your knowledge and defend your position when it counts. Save that show for board meetings. Micromanagement is frowned upon by employees. 

To recap, three concepts will effectively help us manage the remainder of the year while at the same time forecasting budgets, setting expectations and implementing regulatory changes for the new year. We will manage with authenticity, being passionate, clear and consistent in what we say and do. We will work to communicate effectively and make sure that communication is understood. And finally, we will let our staff members be the experts in their area of expertise, as it frees us to focus on other areas. Now take a breath, turn the page and begin writing your future.

Richard Gallagher is the CEO of Oak Tree Business Systems Inc., Big Bear Lake, Calif. For more than 35 years, Oak Tree has provided forms, lending documents, and disclosures for credit unions in all aspects of operation: business, membership, home equity lending and consumer loans.

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