Nov 05 2012

Young Professional Leadership and Career Development in North American Credit Unions


How do I become a leader here?

The contributors cited in this report acknowledge that they may not be ready for the big job tomorrow, but they still want to make progress in the meantime. They want the next rungs to be accessible, and if those rungs are not accessible, they are willing to work until they are.

But the research is more than a description. It provides a step-by-step guide for concerned leaders, HR professionals, or young strivers themselves to build the steps they feel are missing. And rather than focus on wholesale reinvention, it encourages a measured approach that calls for acknowledging and joining existing programs if they are already in place. But above all, the three case studies and checklists encourage action, which is a direct outgrowth of the Cooperative Trust (formerly the Crash Network), which helps up-and-coming credit union leaders focus on action and creation and ways to make their mark.

The author condenses excellent advice into several steps for anyone looking to form a professional development or rising leadership group:

  1. Assess what’s out there. Don’t reinvent the wheel if adding to, or simply joining, an ongoing initiative will do. Also, evaluate the HR and external business environments into which you want to introduce the group.
  2. Establish a goal. Clearly define, in as few statements as possible, what you would like the group to accomplish.
  3. Get a few people on board. Build relationships with peers and superiors that can help sustain the initiative.
  4. Get a sponsor. A current leader who is interested in the project and has the clout to sustain it is invaluable.
  5. Spread the word. Formal and informal channels are key, and a small passionate group can be better than a diffuse cluster.
  6. Build partnerships. Once you’ve started, look for internal and external partnerships to help you maintain momentum and grow.
  7. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Use your initial goals as a guide stick, but don’t be afraid to switch, narrow, or expand your focus as the group rolls along.

Not only are these seven steps important, but completing them in order is important, too. The three case studies prove that where organizers fell short, it was often because they ignored a step or simply hurried their enthusiasm into the later steps too soon.

Great individuals may be dispensable, but great leaders are always in demand. Use this brief to help grow them at your credit union.

Report Number 280