The Support Center – a regional nonprofit financial intermediary

About Our Partner:

The Support Center was a statewide non-profit financial intermediary that partnered with Community Development Credit Unions to build their capacity in providing small business and mortgage loans creating economic opportunity in under-served markets.

Challenge:

Paula was a new CEO taking on this role during a period of intense change for the financial industry and for the Support Center in particular who had dismissed their last CEO. Her challenge was to establish herself quickly as a leader and develop a vision she could use to move the Center forward toward financial sustainability.

Goals:

Primary Goal: Develop, adopt and implement a strategic action plan to make the Support Center and its members financially sustainable within 5 years (measured by increased income and consistent positive cash flow).

  • Obstacle: There was resistance on many levels to this as it required real change and a new approach to our work. This included resistance within the board and staff that had been doing business in a particular way for the last 10 years.
  • Solution: Together we developed a strategic action plan that was unanimously adopted by the board. Staff was re-organized in a way to be able to best implement the plan.  Additional organizational structures were developed to implement the plan with the Center’s credit union partners. Within a year, all parties were moving in the right direction, with losses declining as income and business opportunities increasing.

Subgoal: Successfully engaging the staff to implement these changes.

  • Obstacle: Existing staff had had little professional supervision for many years falling into negative patterns of working that were difficult to change.
  • Solution: Skillful Means training and coaching helped Paula navigate this very difficult process. She began to see obstacles more objectively, less personally and relax her own emotional reactions to the negativity and work with problems in a direct way.  Skillful Means coaching and consulting helped her make critical distinctions in how she communicated with staff, intentionally developing healthy structures for meetings. She began to evaluate staff regularly and encouraged open ongoing communication about how to makes things better.

SubGoal: Be recognized by and influence State General Assembly leaders to support the Center financially in a way that it could implement its sustainability vision.

  • Obstacles: 1) Paula had no experience or relationship working with this institution or politicians. 2) They were in an environment where the state budget was being deeply cut to address deficits.
  • Solution: Working with Skillful Means methods, the Center received the largest allocation from the General Assembly in its history. Developing and executing an intentional communication strategy, Paula was able to create a strong partnership with political representatives who wanted to support her vision and the results.

SubGoal: Develop the sustainability of individual credit unions, beginning with Generations Community Credit Union.

  • Obstacles: The credit union had 8 branches across the eastern North Carolina with varied levels of staffing, operational capacity and profitability. The managers were mostly putting on fires in the branches. To expand opportunities to increase income and the sustainability of the branches, the mindset of the managers had to shift to become leaders in their communities.
  • Solution: During monthly training with branch managers, we helped managers to develop leadership mindsets.  Instead of simply reacting to their external environment, managers learned how to generate new lending and deposit opportunities. They exceeded their stated goals of creating new strategic business partnership by over 300% creating over 144 new business relationships or strategic alliances across the 8 communities. Of these 144 new relationships,2/3 generated new income for the branches within a 5-month period.  Their ability to successfully lead their own branches and customers toward financial sustainability increased markedly as each quarter the financial results of the credit unions improved over a two-year period.
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