When a team of fighter pilots get the OK to launch a mission, they “push it up.”
Each pilot steps into their aircraft knowing they have a specific role in the team’s mission and that they can’t reach the team’s goals without working together.
That’s the mindset credit union leaders need to have.
“If you’re not committed to push it forward and to make the tough decisions, you’re in the wrong seat,” says Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman. “Here today, gone tomorrow. Sometimes you must do what you don’t want to do.”
Waldman, a decorated F-16 fighter pilot and combat veteran with more than 2,650 flight hours and 65 missions under his belt, gave the keynote address at the CUNA Human Resources & Organizational Development Council Conference Monday in Anaheim, Calif.
To be a peak performer, Waldman says you need to:
• Commit to excellence. Find your passion and commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals.
For Waldman, becoming a fighter pilot meant overcoming a fear of heights—which he overcame after jumping off a 33-foot diving platform while wearing a 35-pound pack as a student at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“My passion was greater than my fear,” he says. “I wasn’t going to let 33 feet stand between me and living my dream.”
Not only should you identify your own passions and fears, you should also identify those of your co-workers so you can make authentic connections and earn their loyalty in tough times.
“Be their wingman and help them make the leaps,” he says.
• Commit to the mission. Do what it takes to be mission-ready and confident in your skills and abilities.
Know your role and the role of others on the team. Hold everyone accountable and have a contingency plan in place in case something goes wrong.
Know what you should be reading, learning, and participating in to continue your preparation.
• Commit to the team. Be the leader, not the dragger, Waldman says.
As a leader, you must lift each other up by recognizing that at times someone’s personal life may take priority over their job. Ask questions and see if they need help.
This acknowledgment will build trust and loyalty, and establish a connection between you and that employee.
“Leaders lift,” Waldman says. “The key to having a connection is to press pause and ask yourself what questions you should be asking. Be a commander, not a demander.”
Also, “check six” to see who can check your blind spot or help you out in difficult situations. Be approachable, open to hearing new ideas, and coachable.
Show appreciation to the “unsung heroes” who are doing the behind-the-scenes work that is vital to your organization’s success.
“To build a culture of collaboration, you have to think outside of the cockpit,” Waldman says. “Innovation starts with conversations.”
Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNAJennifer, @CUNA_News, @cumagazine, @CUNACouncils, and by using the #HRODCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at cunacouncils.org.