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Leadership isn't About Your Position on the Organization Chart; It's About Your Ability to Influence, Fenner Says
Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:45 AM

Mark Fenner

When it comes to leadership, Mark Fenner of the Rise Performance Group says it isn’t about having a title or a position of authority; it’s about having the ability to influence – the ability to get others to follow, regardless of their position on an organization chart. Fenner was one of many top-notch breakout session presenters at the Cornerstone Credit Union League’s Annual Meeting & Expo in San Antonio. His Wednesday session was “Game Changers: Five Traits of Credit Union Leaders who Create Explosive Growth.

“Leaders have a vision. They see where they are today, but they also see what they can do to make it better,” Fenner told an audience of credit union professionals and volunteers. “Followers, on the other hand, see where things are, but struggle to see how they can make things better.”

Fenner engaged the audience throughout his presentation; challenging them to think about how they define and measure leadership, and the qualities they believe leaders should possess.

According to Fenner, the five traits of credit union leaders who create explosive growth are:

Trait One: They value leadership. “They can communicate it and they measure it,” he told the audience.

Trait Two: They own the mission vision and value. “The idea of truly owning your mission, vision and value statements are is single biggest impacts on performance in an organization,” Fenner said. The mission statement, he explained, is what and why we do it; the vision statement is where we’re going, and the value statement identifies what we stand for – it’s our culture.

“Your mission and vision statements need to connect emotionally with stakeholders,” he told attendees. “They need to be short and sweet, and easy to communicate.”

Many organizations, Fenner said, tend to get too wordy. He challenged the audience to take a look at their mission, vision and value statements and honestly assess if they are connected to it.

“Can you tell stories around them and bring them to life?” he asked attendees.  If you can’t, then Fenner suggests you should probably revisit your mission, vision and value statements.

Trait Three: They identify potential leaders.  “Most people have a need to be part of something bigger than themselves, and they need to grow,” Fenner stated. “When we help people accomplish what they didn’t think they could, loyalty and work ethic increases dramatically”

Fenner recommends that credit unions have a process in place to help identify potential leaders. He outlined for the audience qualities he believes we should look for in a potential leaders, including character, influence, positive attitude, excellent people skills, evident gifts, proven track record, confidence, self-discipline, effective communication skills, and discontent with status quo.

He pointed out that all leaders are good followers, and they are servant leaders. To combat the trend toward mediocrity, Fenner suggested the following:

  • Make highly developed leader responsible
  • Hire and promote most highly developed leaders
  • Utilize statistical tool and processes
  • Commit to modeling leadership
  • Commit to developing those around you

Trait Four: They cast a leadership vision. According to Fenner, there are five levels of leadership:

  1. Position – people  follow because they have to
  2. Permission relationship – people follow because they want to
  3. Production, results – people follow because of what you’ve done for organization
  4. People development – reproduction – people follow because of what you have done for them.
  5. Pinnacle – respect – people follow because of who you are and what you represent.

Trait Five: They equip potential leaders. Fenner highlighted what he considers the five-step equipping process:

  1. Model – Do the tasks while the person being trained watches
  2. Mentor - Train and do at the same time
  3. Monitor – exchange places and let the trainee perform the tasks
  4. Motivate – stop doing and encourage
  5. Multiply – the best way to learn something is to teach it

“Leadership is all about investing in others. It’s about helping others grow,” Fenner told the credit union audience.