Nilofer Merchant COOP THINK 15

Are You Leading for Now or the Future?

Empower members and employees to drive change at your CU.

May 7, 2015

Leading a modern organization is a dual challenge, Nilofer Merchant told the CO-OP Think 15 Conference.

Leaders must figure how to invent the future state of their business, while also managing the current state, she said.

Merchant is a best-selling author on innovation and collaboration, a TED speaker, and a business leader.

To invent, or reinvent, the future, Merchant advises credit union leaders to:

  • See and seek around corners;
  • Be willing to unlearn; and
  • Know it's not "if," but "how."

Work on these areas, Merchant advised, to find your better future:

  • Social. Give ownership of your brand to users. Allow ideas to come from outside your organization. You can build something bigger together with your members.
  • Compete. The new efficiency is relationships, she said. Success will depend on having the speed and agility to leap from one opportunity to the next. It is not about doing a process faster, but better serving your relationships.
  • Rethink. Invite everyone to play. Anyone—and quite possibly everyone—counts in solving your business problems. Sometimes the right talent or idea doesn't look like what you expect it to look like, Merchant said.
  • Us. Empower individuals to empower the team. And give them purpose because purpose brings out the very best people and the best in people.
  • How. Make sure you have a culture that allows all ideas to come to the table. "The No. 1 thing you can do to be a better leader is listen," Merchant said. Go to meetings with questions, not statements.

Merchant's talk focused on CO-OP's "Helpful" megatrend, which refers to "operationalizing" new technology and experiences.