Ari Farrell Shares Final Thoughts on Emerging Leaders Program

Editor’s Note: The Emerging Leaders Program helps credit union professionals build the skills they need to coordinate and execute strategies and tactics for their organizations.

Ari (Rachel) Farrell, Industrial Hemp Program Analyst at Northwest Community Credit Union, was awarded the 2020 Emerging Leaders Strategic Link Scholarship. In the final part of a three-part series, Farrell reflects on the journey as a whole and shares key takeaways.

As my time in the Emerging Leaders Program winds down, I have come to realize that I have strengthened my confidence, asked for more accountability while connecting with others, and have made more independent decisions that have directly impacted my role at Northwest Community Credit Union for the better. I said yes to what has turned out to be an amazing experience. It started when I decided to apply for the Strategic Link scholarship, and at the moment when I was notified about being selected I was in a state of disbelief, humbled, nervous, and excited! Reflecting, I see that I was taking steps forward in my career from day one when I made that decision to grow as a leader. I was hungry for it (still am!).

I was nervous on the first Emerging Leaders call, but there was not much time to be nervous because we jumped right into the dojo (a learning space) and the content. It was an incredible amount of learning that pulled me in. It helped me recognize my personal strengths and uncovered some areas I needed to shift up or down when working with my team. All of this was just the beginning as I started to dig further into the material and set my intention to move forward as a confident and self-empowered leader.

Strategic planning was not unfamiliar to me, but it was also not something that I had the opportunity to practice very often. Utilizing the Vision Strategy Method (VSM) to build out a project from start to finish was hard work. It forced me to get really clear about my reason for the project and envisioning possible consequences. I realized that I needed to push my thinking further and ask myself bigger-picture questions such as “who would be involved?” and “what barriers could I run into?” I considered whether I’d had enough conversations with the key stakeholders and allowed space for other perspectives on the project.

Taking the time to really work through the purpose for projects, using the VSM, moved me into action more effectively.

I asked for more feedback, which turned into more support and buy-in. Getting that direct feedback provided me the right information to know that my idea to improve our business member service by utilizing a digital platform was a worthwhile project that aligns with my credit union’s strategic vision. When it came time to present my project to my executive team, I was able to comprehensively lay out the facts while demonstrating the value it would bring to the credit union. I went into that presentation with confidence. I spoke up more and hesitated less.

The support of the program’s coaches coupled with the perspective I received from the members of my cohort to practice — trusting that everyone there wanted to see the other succeed — was a large part of my learning and helped present to an executive team in a more formal setting.

While I was focusing on professional change and growth, I also went through an incredible amount of personal change while in the Emerging Leaders Program. Our coaches had told us how this would translate into our personal lives, but it wasn’t until I was working through some challenging personal change that I fully made the connection. I am able to see more clearly how I interact with others, and I can more easily recognize when I need to step out of my comfort zone to share my voice and be my authentic self. There has been a lot of work, conversations, and hours involved in the preparation for projects — it was hard. Doing all of that while also being extraordinarily busy at work showed me that I need to prioritize and organize; busy happens and there is still work to be done. My title may not have changed, but my role and the value I bring to Northwest Community Credit Union has evolved.

As I continue to reflect on my learning from the Emerging Leaders Program, I realize it’s been a long journey from where I started, and it is my commitment to keep pushing forward, driving new ideas, grounding myself, and staying true to my purpose as a leader in the Credit Union Movement.

Part one and part two of this series are available online.

Questions about the Emerging Leaders Program may be directed to Holly Miller, NWCUA Director of Programming.

Posted in Emerging Leaders.