In just a few hours every credit union leader will be confronted with an opportunity or (if you prefer) a challenge:  It’s fourth and one, and time is running out.

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

What are my (not so cryptically) referring to?

The start of the fourth quarter of 2014.

Chances are your perspective regarding whether the dawning of final quarter of the year is a challenge or an opportunity is directly linked to the progress you’ve made thus far in 2014.

For some, the fourth quarter will be a serious challenge — a challenge to fulfill project commitments targeted for year-end, to produce target results in key performance areas, and to map out action plans for the new year.

For others, the fourth quarter will be an opportunity — an opportunity to celebrate the successes achieved to date, to recommit to the final push for the year, and to carry the momentum into the new year.

There are three critical questions every leader should answer before their head hits the pillow tonight:

1. Which perspective best fits your view and defines your fourth-quarter strategy?

2. What are you going to do to ensure that the next 90 days set the stage for success in 2015?

3. What efforts need to be redirected in the coming weeks so that the most critical outcomes for the year can be realized?

Action Advice:  Gather your team for a quick huddle to assess where you are and define your fourth quarter action plan. Focus on realigning effort to drive results in key areas and be willing to stop doing things that are not important now (even though they may merit attention in the future) so that the most important things receive the limited attention available in the next 90 days. And don’t forget to commit to defining a strong action plan for 2015 in support of your strategic vision.