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Leadership Assumptions

Sara Cox Landolt

"I'm here to talk this morning about you," opened the 2000 CUES Marketing, Operations & Technology Conference keynote speaker Phillip Van Hooser, president of Van Hooser Associates Inc., Ocala, Fla. "Specifically about your role as leaders in your organizations, communities and in your industry." The conference was held April 6-9 at the Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. "A lot of people think the only leaders in an organization are the ones with titles like CEO, director, COO," he said. Leadership is not about titles, it's about the influence and impact you can have on others, he suggested. Everyone has that opportunity, but you must first learn to lead.

As a start, Van Hooser shared these three basic assumptions:

1. Our focus is on leadership, not management. How many here know managers who will never be leaders? he asked. Or how many know someone not in a management position who is very effective in a leadership role?

"What we've proven is a person can be a leader without being a manger, or be a manager without being a leader," he said. "Don't assume your position as manager of whatever is going to equate to you being a leader."

Phil Van Hooser
Phillip Van Hooser
Van Hooser defined a manager as someone who plans, controls and directs resources. These resources include physical items like buildings; financial items, that's who credit unions are; and technology items, that will impact us now and in the future. "Those three resources are critical. I bet you spend countless hours managing those resources," said Van Hooser. "I'd like to add one thing. Those three things do whatever you tell them to." The fourth resource managers must plan, control and direct, is people. "Understand this, they have a choice, a decision, whether to follow your leadership," he stressed.

 2. Leadership is not position; it is the ability to offer service and the willingness to take action. "Very few people are impressed by titles," said Van Hooser. "Actually two people: you and your mom." Your primary job as leaders in your organization is not to service the needs of your members, but to service the needs of your followers. Their primary job is to service your members.

"I'm not saying to not be concerned with members' needs, but your primary job is to service the needs of your employees," he explained. He said if attendees' primary focus is on the credit union's members, their credit unions will start to deal with turnover, morale issues and service concerns. "Your credit union will start to implode because the structure is not there."

3. The essential element of leadership is followers. "It's not about charisma, organization, decisiveness," he said. "The key element [of leadership] is being focused on the followers."

How do you know if you're a good leader? Van Hooser said it's simple, just look over your shoulder and see who is following you. "The challenge is sometimes you're playing catch-up instead of leading."


A former FORTUNE 500 manager, Phillip Van Hooser knows firsthand what employees want from their leaders. Time spent talking with employees, supervisors and managers of every kind, observing what works and what doesn't - that insider's knowledge is the essence of each presentation Phillip Van Hooser develops.
Like to know more about Phillip?

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