I had driven the old car about as far I needed to drive it. I was constantly taking it in for service and pouring money into it. It doesn’t take a genius bar to arrive at the conclusion that something needed to change. I began looking through the paper. (I am that old!) I would purchase a newspaper on the weekends and physically look through pages and pages of car ads. There were so many choices. I began to narrow down wants and needs and finally went to the car lot. I went alone full of confidence that would soon be shattered. Being in college did not provide a lengthy tenure at any job. I had little to pay down and a short credit history. I left without a vehicle that day. They told me I needed someone who would help me borrow the money. I needed a co-signer.
In his book, One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season, Tony Larusa talks a lot about co-signers. As the skipper for 3 major league teams for over 30 years he developed a system of management that helped him to win 3 World Series Titles and 7 Pennants. Although he was the skipper, he needed others to assist him in leadership of the organization. He re-purposed the term co-signer with reference to this management style. He would bring together veterans and rookies from the club who had garnered trust and provided influence to the decisions being made. How can this help your organization?
1. Enables change. Because of the co-signer I was able to buy a much-needed vehicle. What I had was not going to last for long driving 90 miles round trip 2-3 times a week. I needed to make a change but was unable to do so on my own. Your organization probably needs change. Any organization that refuses to change in today’s culture is signing their death certificate. I believe this is true for a couple of reasons. First, the fickleness of people is on the rise. Second, there is no commitment to you as an organization like it used to be. We must adjust to meet t he need of a new breed of consumer. However, change is often resisted. Having co-signers, those who buy in, can help in spreading the message and purpose of necessary change.
2. Increases trust. This was my first buying experience. Still, I knew better than to look for a new car. I went searching through used car lots. I had found a car I really liked but soon realized that I could not get that kind of vehicle. On my own, my credit was not established enough for the finance guys to trust me. One of the first questions was if I had someone who would co-sign the loan. Frankly, they did not trust me. My parents were not in a position to help me in this capacity. I found myself in the workshop of my girlfriends Dad one weekend. As we talked he asked me about my vehicle that carried his daughter around. I could tell he was not exactly impressed! I told him that I was looking for something better but was having trouble. He looked up at me over his half-glasses with that look. You know the one! Quickly I assured him that I had the money and the income, but did not have the credit history needed. He ended up co-signing the loan and I walked away with a better car. I could not have done that by myself. When I approached the finance guy this time, I had the signature of someone they trusted. So much of what needs to happen in our organizations cannot be done alone. Coupled with low trust levels, we need others to buy-in to the vision, plan, and purpose.
3. Spreads accountability. When I drove away from the car lot in the “new” vehicle I was ecstatic! However, the payments would come in 30 days. By having a co-signer the bank insured the loan through extended accountability. If for some reason I did not pay the note, they could go to the co-signer for explanation and/or payment. In every organization there must be a “buck stops here” person. That may be you or the CEO or the Chairman or some other titled leader. When the questions, concerns, critiques, and challenges come it is good to have help. Bringing in others to assist you in decision-making spreads the accountability. The leader may have other pressing needs. In this moment, the co-signers take up the reigns of leadership, influence, and answer those issues.
I paid every payment for that car until I traded it for another one (on my own this time) while in graduate school. Without a co-signer, I would not have been able to get that car. In today’s economy, you might be able to get the car but the interest rate will rob you of everything you have. Having a co-signer enables change, increases trust and spreads accountability. Since we married, my wife and I have been co-borrowers on everything we have purchased. We buy together. It is not mine or hers with regard to houses and cars. I need co-signers every day in the organization I lead. I am sure you do as well.
Finalize plans with counsel, and wage war with sound guidance. (Proverbs 20:18, HCSB)