Musings from the CU Suite

Mar 22, 2012

5 Lessons from Captain James T. Kirk? Yes. And One Huge Shameless Plug

Written by Anthony Demangone

As a young kid growing up in Towanda, Pennsylvania, I didn't have the 200 cable channels that currently barrage us.  We had 20, give or take.  But we had WSKG, a public TV station out of Elmira.  And they aired Star Trek.  That was all I needed. I loved that show, always wondering how Captain Kirk would dodge what appeared to be inevitable doom - with only 10 minutes to go in the episode! (And I always wondered why they didn't keep a hidden stash of those Dilithium Crystals.  They always ran out of those at the worst time.)

Anyway, I digress.  What a joy it was when a blog reader (a hat tip to you, Mr. Anderson) forwarded this post to me: Five Leadership Lessons from Captain James T. Kirk. ( Sure, it is fiction.  But try to argue with these lessons.  (Plus, the article is fun.  I don't know about your week, but I could use a bit of fun right about now.)

What are the lessons?

  1. Never stop learning.
  2. Have advisors with different world views.
  3. Be part of the away team.
  4. Play poker, not chess.
  5. Blow up the Enterprise. 

Please read the article yourself.  But here's a snippet, taken from the "away team" discussion.


“Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

Whenever an interesting or challenging mission came up, Kirk was always willing to put himself in harm’s way by joining the Away Team. With his boots on the ground, he was always able to make quick assessments of the situation, leading to superior results. At least, superior for everyone with a name and not wearing a red shirt. Kirk was very much a hands-on leader, leading the vanguard of his crew as they explored interesting and dangerous situations.

When you’re in a leadership role, it’s sometimes easy to let yourself get away from leading Away Team missions. After all, with leadership comes perks, right? You get the nice office on the higher floor. You finally get an assistant to help you with day to day activities, and your days are filled with meetings and decisions to be made. And many of these things are absolutely necessary. But it’s sometimes easy to trap yourself in the corner office and forget what life is like on the front lines. When you lose that perspective, it’s that much harder to understand what your team is doing, and the best way to get out of the problem. What’s more, when you’re not involved with your team, it’s easy to lose their trust and have them gripe about how they don’t understand what the job is like.

This is a lesson that was actually imprinted on me in one of my first jobs, making pizzas for a franchise that doesn’t exist anymore. Our general manager spent a lot of time in his office, focused on the paperwork and making sure that we could stay afloat on the razor-thin margins we were running. But one thing he made sure to do, every day, was to come out during peak times and help make pizza. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. The fact that he did so made me like him a lot more. It also meant that I trusted his decisions a lot more. In much the same way, I’m sure, as Kirk’s crew trusted his decisions, because he knew the risks of command personally.


And now, for that shameless've been warned. 

Shameless plug

NAFCU has released its updated 2012 Credit Union Compliance GPS.  The manual is the textbook for our Regulatory Compliance School, so check to see if someone from your organization attended this year's school.  If they did, your credit union already has a copy.

If not, I'd urge you to consider purchasing a copy for your credit union.  

Important note:  Keep in mind that I'm biased. NAFCU sells these manuals. I work for NAFCU.  Sales of the manuals offset the time and money spent to develop this great resource and helps us better serve our members. Again, I work for NAFCU.  If NAFCU meets its goals, it helps me keep my job and helps to pay for, at some level, Kate and Briggs' milk, tater tots, and college education. So always take a biased man's words with a grain of salt. 

As I was saying, consider purchasing this or your organization. I helped design its original format.  It is probably the one work project of which I'm most proud.  And because I love lists, here are 5 reasons why you should buy it.

  1. Insurance.  You may have a cracker jack compliance officer.  But they may roll to a new credit union at some point.  Reference texts are a nice way to have some continuity of information on hand. 
  2. One and done.  You only need to buy one manual for your organization each year.  You can then copy and distribute it as you see fit.  Wall-paper your bathroom walls with it, if you wish. It's your manual. 
  3. Details, and context.  We tried to give both context and details for each subject matter.  One without the other makes information hard to digest.
  4. It's electric.  We link to a ton of other regulations, guidance documents, etc.  If we think it can help you wade through regulatory sewage, we included it. 
  5. This is what we do.  We're NAFCU.  We're compliance nerds.  We love this stuff.  We hope that is reflected in the manual.  

If I were back in a credit union, and someone told me that I could only purchase one compliance manual for my credit union - the GPS would be that manual.  

Thus ends my shameless plug rant.  Have a great weekend, everyone!