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Transformation Starts At The Top

Updated: May 16, 2022


For an organization to transform, it needs to gain innovative insights about its business and to gain these insights, and it needs to harness its data. However, the first step is to transform its leadership.

While that is a self-evident statement, it is incredible how many organizations do not follow it. Many credit union leaders embraced a command-and-control form of leadership to help navigate through the trials and tribulations of the pandemic. While the benefits of this leadership style, an authoritative, top-down approach where the privilege and power are vested in senior management, are plenty in a crisis. It might not be the most successful method post-pandemic as organizations look to leverage data and transform an organization.

According to MIT Sloan professors Deborah Ancona and Kate Issacs, distributed leadership is defined as a collaborative, autonomous practice of managing by a network of formal and informal leaders. This leadership style will give organizations the nimbleness they crave to be flexible and successful in the current times of geopolitical conflict, pandemic, climate crisis, and beyond.

In this recent MIT article, Issacs describes the difference between command and control and distributed as,


“Their (senior executives) job isn't to be the smartest people in the room who have all the answers,” Isaacs said, “but rather to architect the gameboard where as many people as possible have permission to contribute the best of their expertise, their knowledge, their skills, and their ideas.”

The benefits of distributed leadership are many. 1) It provides improved insights on the market and its needs, 2) provides improved quality of decision making due to a stronger sense of ownership, 3) increases financial transparency, 4) allows organizations to leverage entrepreneurial thinking, allows for increased innovation and idea generation and 5)it lays the foundation for an organization to leverage their data to create insights that help it transform

To help any organization shift to distributed leadership, Ancona and Issacs offer the following six suggestions.

  1. Getting the strategic objectives vetted and tested by lower-level people is instrumental to the change process.

  2. Engaging in a two-way dialogue about their passion, knowledge, networks, and time availability to succeed, regardless of a person's role or level in the company's hierarchy.

  3. Having honest conversations with potential team members about their capacity and commitment to a new team structure.

  4. To become enterprise competencies, provide formal coaching and learning to build competent decision-making, collaboration skills, and entrepreneurial thinking.

  5. Reminding talent that a shift from command-and-control does not mean that senior leaders stop leading. They change their leadership style to facilitate and enable this new entrepreneurial activity.

  6. To achieve this change, the transition will require a combination of both leadership styles.

With leadership, communication, innovation, and nimbleness blossoming at the credit union, the ability to identify new insights fueled by data has become part of the DNA of the credit union.

Need help making your Credit Union's Data Strategy roadmap? Check out the resources available in the Data Education Center. We have more articles, white papers, and the leading playbook on data transformation and education classes.

 

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We believe that data transformation doesn't have to feel overwhelming or expensive to be impactful. After helping over 600 credit union leaders launch their data journeys, we have identified several consistent knowledge gaps. We have worked hard to fill these gaps with a variety of educational artifacts:

 

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