The Double A Team

I pity the fool who goes out tryin' a' take over da world, then runs home cryin' to his momma! – B.A. Baracus

The Servus Young Leaders Network isn’t trying to take over the world, but we are trying to change it. And while I may have been the one to bring the young leader network idea to our credit union, this is where the individuality ends. We have been successful because of the tireless efforts of our executive committee. None of us deal specifically in the area of leadership development. Our contributions have been made off of the side of our desks, and most of the work has been done on our own personal time. I would be remised if I didn’t acknowledge these exceptional young leaders as I am truly proud to be representing them in the CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive Contest. They are:

Marcy Lovberg, Dion Linke, Robert Christiansen, Stewart Oke, Tracy Millman, Leanne Mamchur, Steve Till-Rogers, and Aaron Ekstrom

It hasn’t always been rainbows and lollipops. Creating a cohesive team isn’t easy especially when our team was being formed during a time of undefined culture. A year prior to the Servus Young Leaders Network Executive Committee being created, Servus Credit Union had completed one of the largest mergers in credit union history by partnering with CommonWealth and Community Savings Credit Union. To truly appreciate the magnitude of this merger, these are the three credit union’s pre-merger stats:

Servus: 60 branches | 195,000 members | $4.75 billion | 900 employees

Community Savings: 30 branches | 110,000 members | $2.5 billion | 640 employees

CommonWealth: 15 branches | 52,000 members | $1.5 billion | 300 employees

To do our part in assisting in forming a new culture, 3 representatives from each legacy credit union were invited to assist in the development of the young leader network. This was essential as the executive committee members would act as advocates for the Servus Young Leaders Network in their region once it was opened to the entire Servus family.

We’ve had our problems along the way and I take the blame for that. Meeting and team norms should have been clearly defined at the initial onset and they weren’t. As most people had limited or no prior relationships with each other, a team building event should have been organized to help break barriers and build bridges. While this was eventually done 9 months later, it would have gone a long way for us progressing quicker than what we did. As the leader of group these failures fall on me. Lesson learned, but I didn’t go crying to my momma about it. Frankly the development, implementation, and operation of the Servus Young Leaders Network has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my career.

We have gone through most of the team development stages (forming, storming, norming, performing) and back again. As the months have progressed, we have definitely come together as an effective team. We don’t always agree, but we have created an open and honest environment where relationships are not jeopardized from a lone argument.

You are probably wondering how this relates to the “Double A” Team, which stands for autonomy and accountability. These were the first items provided to us by our executive sponsor and it has made all the difference. Autonomy gave us the freedom and fearlessness to create, while accountability gave us the responsibility to disclose the results in a transparent manner. I don’t think we would be where we are at today without these items. It allowed us to truly explore how we could impact the young leaders within Servus Credit Union without having fear of making a mistake, but being accountable for the decisions we made.

Through our journey, we have developed:

  • Vision and Mission Statements
  • A Constitution (including structure)
  • Chair/Vice-Chair/Executive Committee Member duties and responsibilities
  • Decision making process
  • A go-forward succession plan
  • Our own social networking site opened to all Servus Credit Union staff
  • A National Scholarship Program (that will include a mentorship piece)
  • A monthly Servus Young Leader Spotlight
  • Executive influence annually at the Credit Union Central of Canada’s National Conference.
  • Budgetary responsibilities

And lastly, we have created what I believe will be one of our greatest achievements, the 35 under 35 Leadership Retreat to be officially announced in the very near future. With this project, we will be able to support our greatest amount of young people in their journey to become great credit union leaders.

In the words of the great Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, “Next time you think you want to take someone out, don't get yourself a good squad. Get yourself a team”.