“I need to be in the Credit Union system for a long period of time to have an opportunity for leadership”.
“Leadership is only evident for Management”
“What does leadership look like for me?”
Do any of these questions look or sound familiar? 7+ years ago, I had these same perceptions, thoughts, and questions in my own mind…..
As I grew in the Credit Union system, I obtained a lot of skills. I learned a vast amount of product knowledge, was able to experience success in several branch roles, and had a lot of energy. I really enjoyed what I did but like any passionate employee, I wanted more.
I knew I had some great experiences but in order to take the next step, I thought I was lacking in one key area…….the opportunity for leadership. I did have an opportunity to be part of a Career Pathing Program and do some skills assessments, in addition to speaking with staff in roles of which I had interest. It provided insight to learn about the roles, their qualifications, and the courses and/or designations needed to get them. What didn’t they have? Specific ways to obtain leadership experiences and the motivation and inspiration to go after it.
My perception of both success and leadership changed after attending my first Sask Young Leaders conference in 2010. I was opened up to similar experiences and similar myths of leadership that others were going through, but more importantly the determination that many other Credit Union youth were applying to overcome this skills gap. I was amazed at both the large number of non-managers in attendance and the vast amounts of leadership qualities they possessed. Leaving that conference kept me in touch with several of the attendees, both inside and outside of my own Credit Union, and the empowerment to take my career in my own hands if I wanted to take it to the next level. I learned that Leadership is not 1 specific thing, it looks different to everyone. It might be improving communication skills and expanding your focus to include motivating the people on your team to help them develop their own skills. Or it might just be that you work with someone through adversity beside them, not above them.
7 years later I am in an exciting Managerial role, part of the Sask Young Leaders Committee, and Chairing the inaugural Affinity Young Leaders committee. I have learned so much from SYL, our participants, and the contacts I’ve made. SYL is one of the Credit Union System’s best kept secrets and it remains the utmost importance of this committee to ensure we let our Credit Unions know that the secret is out!
Whatever Leadership means to you, the willingness and motivation to seek it, understand it, and apply it is vital. True Leadership can never be mandated, it can only be earned. Try it on for size! I bet it will look good on you……
Tyson Klapak, Affinity Credit Union