Passing the Torch

Mentoring is the key to passing vision and values to future CU leaders.

February 8, 2011

There's a growing concern in the credit union movement that the zeal and passion for our founding principles are retiring along with many of our leaders.

If you’ve attended credit union conferences for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed a changing of the guard. Many familiar faces are gone, and younger faces are taking their place. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s inevitable.

The real issue, however, isn’t about the old guard taking credit union vision and values with them to the lush fairways of retirement.

The real issue has to do with their replacements: What vision and values do they subscribe to? How well are retiring leaders passing the torch? Are retiring leaders actively mentoring their replacements?

I’m not referring to operational mentoring so much as philosophical mentoring.

The credit union movement obviously needs leaders who are skilled in operations. But we also need leaders who are keenly aware of the marching orders handed down to us by pioneers such as Bergengren, Filene, Desjardins, and Doig.

Without a clear understanding and appreciation of our past, our future becomes even more uncertain.

Mentoring is crucial to passing the torch. Every senior, influential leader must pass the torch to the next generation of leaders without dropping it or letting it grow dim.

There are a of couple of programs to help leaders do that:

  1. Credit Union Retired Executives is a way for former credit union executives to stay involved in credit union affairs and give back to the movement.
  2. The National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Education program is an excellent way to steep future leaders in credit union principles and values, and become part of a network of like-minded leaders.

We address this issue in our cover story (“Staying focused”). If your credit union has an effective mentoring program or another way of “passing the torch,” let me know.