Some days I think I am no good at my job

Of course, there are lots of days that I feel like a rock star too. In any job, as in life, you have awesome days, so-so days and tough days.  When you are in a leadership role, your bad days are often being observed by others and can become magnified.  I learned early in my career that every interaction offers you an opportunity to earn or lose respect and trust.  It’s a scary thought! But, like it or not, people in leadership roles are often being closely observed by those around them and its crucial to be aware of the impact and influence your leadership can have on others.

Four years ago when I moved into the role of Financial Services Supervisor, I read an article that really resonated with me.  It talked about how “superstars” in organizations get promoted because of their great sales skills, but the skills and attributes that made them successful in their previous roles are of lesser importance in their new supervisory role.  For example, in my role as Financial Services Representative I was very self-motivated, good at building relationships with my members and had great success in sales as a result, subsequently resulting in personal recognition and rewards.  In the supervisory role, the focus is coaching and mentoring employees on these same skills and ultimately motivating others to accomplish the results, thus contributing to my personal success.

Any career change or job transition comes with growing pains and moving into a management role is no exception.  It can be a very difficult transition; priorities, expectations and relationships will change.  But one thing is certain: being a leader and being a manager are vastly different roles. You do not have to be a good leader to be a manager, nor do you have to be a manager to be a leader.

So what does leadership mean? How do you become a leader? What qualities or attributes does a great leader possess?  I definitely don’t have all the answers, so I asked some of the other young leaders at Affinity Credit Union to share their thoughts and insights:

“Leadership to me means guiding, encouraging and inspiring others to reach their full potential and be successful in whatever it is that they want to do.  Great leaders provide a safe environment for learning, encourage development and are good communicators.”  Sarah Kudeba, Financial Services Manager

“Leadership is the ability to carry along other people in a manner that makes use of each person’s strengths, to achieve a purpose.” Michael Ekine, Contact Centre Representative

“A great leader is someone who can create a vision and be able to inspire their team or individuals. They are able to encourage their team and to create a sense of trust within the group.  A great leader is always genuine, and they are able to challenge and motivate their team.”  Taryn Grey, Member Service Representative

“You become a leader the second people start wanting to follow you, whether you like it or not. People want to start following you when you demonstrate that you are worth following; you can’t make people follow you.” Joel Moskaluke, Associate

“Simple – Inspire others.  Make them want to be part of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Embrace change and initiate opportunity, believe in spirited teamwork, have the passion for growth and the courage to innovate in any environment.  Leadership is getting involved and being engaged in your role.  It takes courage, respect and commitment.” Kelly Hood, Financial Services Manager

“The willingness to lead is just as important as the leading itself.  Becoming a leader is tied to that willingness; you have to be able to show others that you want to lead.  It is working with others to help them succeed through good or difficult times, showing them what is required to get there and following up to ensure that goal is met.” Tyson Klapak, Branch Manager

I read something recently about being a selfless vs. selfish leader. So often leaders are told to be selfless, “it’s not about you,” etc. This particular article talked about the need for leaders to be both selfless and “self-first”. “Over time, if you consistently put the needs of others in front of your own, the results will not be sustainable, as there will be little of you left to lead, you will burn out.” For example, a leader must be selfless in supporting and encouraging the growth and development of others, but they must be “self-first” in ensuring their personal development needs are being met. (The article was posted on  Take a look!  The website has some great leadership resources.)

There are so many models, theories and leadership styles out there. In my experience a good leader must: be honest, genuine and committed, build and nurture relationships, lead by example and provide support, encouragement and motivation to others.

And when all else fails, a great leader will step up, get their hands dirty and do the work!

Until next time, Chantelle

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincey Adams

Being an Adaptable Leader

In my opinion, one of the primary qualities of a leader is adaptability.  For me, adaptability is the ability to change to fit circumstances.  Now, definitely, there are some things that need to be done “by the book”, but leading people effectively is not about sticking to a script.  Whether you’re in a formal or informal leadership position, the need for adaptability is real!

Lack of adaptability often rears its head when there is a change in leadership or composition of work groups.  A new manager or employee comes on board in an area that has been constant for many years and he/she may start to ask “why” things are done a certain way.  Often, this leads to some temporary discomfort within the group.  Members often take these questions personally and perceive them as questioning “my” ability, when in fact he/she may simply be trying to better understand the process.  Alternatively, he/she may be far enough removed from the process to have a different approach.

What are some common symptoms when leaders don’t exhibit adaptability?

  1. Creativity suffers :
    We can’t all be great at everything!  We need infusions of new ideas and we need people with strengths in particular areas to WANT to put those skills to good use.
  2. Frustrations among team members rise:
    Team members need to feel like they’re part of the team to be effective employees.  They need to do this without fear of being left out of the group due to lack of conformity.
  3. Quality of work suffers:
    Engaged team members supported by the group are more productive and contribute more in a positive work environment

How do I know if I’m adaptable?

This is, admittedly, a tough question to answer.  As a first step, take a look at your work and personal habits.  Do you:

  1. Focus frequently on getting others involved in what you enjoy doing?
  2. Refer frequently to past experiences when making decisions on new tasks?
  3. Look back at what the culture of your group or organization was in the past when making decisions for the future?

If so, now might be a good time to make a conscious effort to move toward being more adaptable.  You can start with some basics:

  1. Ask different and more open ended questions.  Look for others opinions and preferences and look for ways to make their ideas work.
  2. Look at the bigger picture.  Instead of looking at just the impact of the project or decision on your workload, consider how it will affect the entire organization.  How can you move the process forward in a positive direction?
  3. Experiment and respect multiple viewpoints.  No, by accept I don’t mean you have to personally accept them.  But you will take your team farther by allowing discussions to take place and looking for ways to include the ideas of others in your projects.

In short, being an adaptable leader is being willing to change.  No, I’m not talking about sacrificing your personal value or beliefs.  But by learning to be an adaptable leader wherever you’re at in your career, you’ll be able to reach your end goals while seeing challenges and unforeseen issues as opportunities for you AND your team.

Cris Richer
Manager of Human Resources
Diamond North Credit Union