Benjamin Franklin was a lot of things – statesman, inventor, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and author (to name a few of his trades.) He was instrumental in the founding of the United States and in building strong diplomatic ties with allies in the earliest days of our republic. He was one of the most admired men of his time and his continues to be revered more than 200 years after his death.
And Ben Franklin, because of his attributes, work ethic, and determination would have also made one hell of a credit union CEO! And all credit union professionals should endeavor to exhibit the same characteristics as those that make Franklin held in such high esteem. Let’s break it down.
Statesman – Franklin was a masterful politician – he knew how to get people on his side and how to attract them to hid ideas. Credit union professionals have to know how to be diplomatic and respectful in their dealings with their members. Their aim must be to provide outstanding service but they must also have the ability to work with members who fall under the “difficult” category. Not an easy task but it still must be done!
Inventor – Franklin invented many things that we still use today. Credit union professionals need to continuously “invent” attractive products & services. They need to keep up with the technological advances of the day and always have the best interests of the members in mind. Credit unions must also have the courage to discard processes that are outdated or irrelevant and replace them with ones that lead to more growth.
Philanthropist – Ben Franklin was a tremendously wealthy man. He was also known for his charitable work and for his focus on improving the lives of those around him. He once said, “He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.” Credit unions exist to help others, plain and simple. Credit union professionals change lives. Credit unions support their communities and perform works of charity. And people notice.
Entrepreneur – Franklin was a self-starter. He didn’t wait for opportunities to fall into his lap. He created opportunities for himself. Credit union professionals have to strive to do the same thing, i.e., realize that life is not akin to the movie, “Field of Dreams.” Just because it’s built, doesn’t mean anyone will come. Every successful businessperson will testify that among the skills needed to achieve great levels of achievement is the ability to recognize opportunities and TAKE ACTION that will benefit everyone involved. CU professionals can’t be afraid to take calculated risks and look for opportunities.
Author – Ben Franklin was an educator and teacher. He shared his insights with anyone who would listen (and in some cases, with people who didn’t want to listen but who needed to hear anyway!) Credit unions must stress the importance of financial literacy and must become teachers to those who look to them for guidance. A great teacher is one that lends a guiding hand, wisdom, and just the right amount of discipline. Credit union professionals need to do the same.
I don’t know about you but if I was looking to hire a person to work at my credit union, I would want them to possess these qualities. Too bad Franklin himself isn’t available.