Since 1935, CUNA Mutual Group has been a leading provider of financial services to credit unions and their members. But its marketplace has transformed in recent years through consolidation and other industry trends, creating more competition. Because the marketplace is changing, CUNA Mutual’s leaders must change too. Since the most pressing need was at the top, the company chose to focus its first leadership development initiative in several years on the senior strategic segment of the organization’s leadership.
As part of the leadership development initiative, which initially targeted 23 leaders who were current high performers or new leaders the senior executive team wanted to get to know better, the CUNA Mutual team incorporated DDI’s Strategic Leadership Experience® (SLE). The SLE program is an intensive business simulation that orients participants to the demands of senior leadership, while providing insight into their personal leadership strengths and development needs. Participants come away with a better understanding of what strategic leadership roles are like, and how they measure up to the demands. It also provides a safe and cost-effective way to give leaders experience on a broader, strategic leadership stage. The experience set the foundation for the development and feedback components of CUNA Mutual’s initiative.
Having incorporated the SLE as a key element of its talent management process, CUNA Mutual was able to accelerate development for key strategic positions, while also supporting a greater cultural change within the organization. Within the first 14 months, the simulation provided a platform for the development of approximately four dozen CUNA Mutual leaders. In addition, the program has provided the senior executives with greater insight into rising leaders and resulted in more informed promotions and role changes. The company also has been able to attain a more objective look at its leadership talent, and a more robust talent pipeline.