Emerging Leaders Journal: Take the First Step to a Lifetime of Growth

By Liz Henderson

Last Friday, I left the final Emerging Leaders session with feelings of appreciation and gratitude.  While I was sad that the time together was over, I was also excited and ready to continue putting to use what I have learned in Emerging Leaders (EL).

After EL session three, I have the tools, skills and confidence to take something from idea to execution—and to clearly communicate my vision. I now have a myriad of multidimensional tools to help me communicate and operate more effectively, a network of peers who make me proud to be a part of this industry, and the knowledge and lessons-learned from some of the most well-known and respected leadership coaches in the industry. 

Following are my three biggest takeaways from the third and final session.

Take the First Step

In working toward a goal, the most important step is the first one. It is easy to be so overwhelmed with the notion of executing perfectly that you never actually execute at all. Getting stuck in “paralysis by analysis” is something that I knew all too well before EL. I would have a great idea, but be hesitant to start it because I was so concerned with putting out the perfect product. This can result in truly great ideas that never come to fruition.

Requesting and Giving Feedback

How often have you gotten the feedback of “you did a great job” and felt less than satisfied when you were really looking for something more constructive that would help you grow? In my final EL session, I learned about structuring and shaping my request for feedback.

This means speaking clearly about what I am committed to working on before requesting the feedback. This means that I might get feedback that sounds like, “I know you are working on delivering a clear and concise message – if you switch out the last two slides, it would make your message clearer.” This feedback is more helpful than, “you did a great job.”

Equally important, I learned that I can add value when others ask me for feedback. To do this, I have to ask them in what areas they really want to improve, and where their current focus lies. This way I hone in on what is important to them, and I can provide feedback and add value to what they are trying to accomplish.

Leadership Development Plan

If I were to leave EL, go back to my job, and throw my EL binder to the back of my desk, I would be doing a disservice to the program, myself, and my credit union. One of the most essential parts of this program is to use the learning process to establish my own practices that support my continued growth and development.

I was able to take a tool that we received in EL—the Leadership Development Plan—to my supervisor, and begin a conversation about my next steps. What competencies do I need to develop? What hard skills do I need to learn? And most importantly, what are my commitments to take action?

After EL session three I feel confident in my ability to take something from idea to execution. Not only am I able to do this through the tangible tools that EL offered, but also by becoming more self-aware and gaining an understanding of the areas I need to build strength in to consistently perform at my best.

Bold, passionate, and approachable leaders are vital to the future of the credit union industry. The Emerging Leaders program helps individuals become this type of leader. I commit to continuing to grow and use what I have learned while encouraging others to participate in this program.

As I mentioned earlier, “Take the First Step.” Commit to EL 2016. I promise: you will not regret it.

Attend the Emerging Leaders Breakfast at Amplify, Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. For more information on Emerging Leaders 2016, contact NWCUA Project Manager Holly Miller at hmiller@nwcua.org or 503.350.2220.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Events.