CCUL Headlines: Industry Insight

Strategic thinking beyond the C-Suite

Tuesday, January 16, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional
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“I need my team members to be more strategic in their thinking,” CEOs often share when seeking ways to advance their leadership teams. If you presume that strategic reasoning is reserved just for senior executives, think again.

Strategic thinking must be present at every level; an understood function of every job description. Integrating strategic thinking as a consistent undertaking of on-the-job duties requires a straightforward approach with particular direction. Here’s how to be more strategic in your current role.

Be a trend spotter. It’s simple to roll up your sleeves and get to the business-as-usual approach to running the credit union, branch or department. You have loans to fund, accounts to open, and members to serve, after all. But, like you teach your frontline leaders, you can’t be just an order-taker: you need to always watch for new opportunities.

Subscribe to daily email updates from credit union news providers. Read monthly publications focused on financial services. Look at retail services, too. How are consumer-facing companies selling to, interacting with and serving their customers? How are the same customers interacting with those companies? From what you learn inside and out of the industry, what trends and business drivers affect your credit union? How could your credit union fuse these trends into daily operations?

See the world through others’ eyes. Take the idea you’ve established from trend spotting and seek out observations from colleagues in your credit union. How might your proposal affect lending, branch operations or technology? Where might it add to an existing initiative or pose a conflict? Invite challenge to your observations as you work through a “Go, No-Go” type of internal analysis.

Industry events, conferences, and gatherings can bring insights. Chat about your strategic ideas with impartial credit union leaders. How can they add to your understanding and what can you learn from their views?  Members offer great value, too. As the end users of your products and experiences, what are you learning from members? Others’ eyes can help strengthen and refine your concepts.   

Tie decisions to strategy. Every day, you’re asked to make decisions that aren’t driven by policy or regulation. They’re business decisions and judgement calls. Understanding your credit union’s strategic goals, defined to the deepest level, brings strategic focus to daily decisions. When you recognize your credit union’s long-term outcomes, your daily approaches are more concentrated.

Share your credit union’s strategic objectives and measures with your colleagues. Give examples of how daily decisions drive strategic success (revenue, loans, loyalty, market share, etc.). Then, look to positively affect, and celebrate, each opportunity to influence strategic issues at your unique point.

It’s been said that, “structure creates freedom.” Use these defined, key skills to demonstrate your strategic expertise and thinking as you go about the daily business of thinking, and effortlessly acting, strategically. As leaders, in the C-Suite or on your way, you will think, contribute and participate at a higher level, acting in the strategic interests of your members and their credit union.


© 2016 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact:;; 951.340.3770.

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