Emerging Leaders Program Helps Credit Union Professionals Develop Their Leadership Presence


Emerging Leaders is a career development program offered by your Association and the DDJ Myers Advancing Leadership Institute. The program includes nine days of face-to-face training, coaching, mentoring, and project work between sessions.

During the second session of Emerging Leaders, we hit the ground running. It had been 89 days since we worked together as a group, but when I walked into the room, I knew our dojo was a safe place to learn.

Assessments and Impact

We began with assessments, which are our opinions, and looked into what was behind them. As we watched a video and discussed the interviewee, we became aware of the wide range of opinions and how those opinions said more about us than the person we were discussing.

The big takeaway from this session was that our assessments impact reality. For one of our activities, a group of volunteers was blindfolded and given a set of shapes. They were then tasked with figuring out which two shapes were missing from the set. The volunteers did self-assessments after the task was complete, and then asked for feedback from two audience members.

As an audience member, I saw that my assessment had an impact on how a volunteer felt about the activity. I learned that I need to ask permission before giving an assessment. If the person says no, then I need to respect that. If they say yes, I need to make sure the feedback helps him or her improve and not speak out of ego. As a leader, I want to impact people’s reality for the better.

Making Confident Requests

Many of our Emerging Leaders lessons involve physical movement. This allows us to practice our presence and show the truth behind our words. Our bodies don’t lie. If we are stressed, for example, others can see it in our body language.

We practiced making requests by walking toward a partner and placing a hand on their chest. Often, we avoided contact or made minimum contact. The discussion that followed compared some of our requests to a limp hand shake. By walking our bodies through the motions, we strengthened our presence and showed our commitment to and confidence in our request. I have been practicing this in my daily communications, and it’s been a challenge for me because I am such a people pleaser. I can’t say if others feel I’m more confident when I make a request now, but I feel the difference in myself.

The Vision Strategy Model

We also discussed our projects and papers through the Vision Strategy Model. This model broke down our projects by looking at our situation assessment, vision, the mission or action we want to take, what obstacles we might face, who will be able to help us, and how we will know we’ve succeeded.  The project is intimidating, but after hearing what others are working on and using the Vision Strategy Model, my project has become clearer and more manageable. When I meet with my supervisors to discuss my project, my goal is to be open to the feedback and not make an assessment of how things will be prior to the meeting.

So much learning happens during the Emerging Leaders Program. It happens in class, after class through homework, the project, and the papers, as well as through discussions and practice with the cohort, the coaches, and my coworkers. This program has helped me access more of myself. My vision for my life and career is being developed and shaped by Emerging Leaders.

Click here to read part one of Heather’s blog series. To find out more about Emerging Leaders, visit the program page, or contact Northwest Credit Union Association’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, Kaitlin Ramos, at 503.350.2208 or kramos@nwcua.org

Posted in Emerging Leaders, Leadership.