A Question of Leadership

A Question of Leadership


Republished from chipfilson.com

What makes a leader? In the cooperative system, as in many other organizations, the answer is presumed to be those selected for the highest level jobs.

In the case of credit unions, this might be the CEO of a trade association, the Chair of NCUA or maybe several of the CEOs of top ten credit union by asset size. Or maybe a very consequential business partner providing essential services to hundreds of credit unions.

However, leadership does not automatically accrue to positions of responsibility. For some will chose to be managers of their institution only, others seek personal agendas, and some will be content with the recognition and rewards that come with their position.

Leadership in cooperatives

For many credit union CEOs, it is tempting to assign the challenge of leadership to others. It is a big enough job after all, just to manage a credit union and board. Leadership of the larger system is for those who have a broader base or mandate.

However, in a cooperative system, leadership comes from the grassroots up. Which means leaders take stands and look beyond the boundaries of their own firm to shape opportunities in the system which has spawned them.

Leadership is not conferred with a job title. It is earned through engagement, courage and foresight.

When was the last time your credit union took a stand to change the status quo? What was at stake? What did you learn? If the answer is “I don’t know,” then ask whether you want to shape the future or let the future shape you.


  • Chip Filson

    A nationally recognized leader in the credit union industry, Filson is an astute author, frequent speaker, and consultant for the credit union movement. He has more than 40 years of experience in government, financial institutions, and business. Chip co-founded Callahan and Associates. Filson has held concurrent positions at the NCUA as president of the Central Liquidity Facility and Director of the Office of Programs, which includes the NCUSIF and the examination process. He holds a magna cum laude undergraduate degree in government from Harvard University. After being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, he earned a master’s degree in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford University in England. He also holds an MBA in management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School in Chicago.

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