Guest Blog: The Most Important Leadership Quality

There has been an endless debate on which leadership quality is more important, experience or intelligence (IQ). After more than 25 years in leadership roles, I would argue that both qualities are essential, but are less important than a third quality – emotional intelligence. In fact, some studies have shown that emotional intelligence is the strongest predicter of performance and accounts for almost 90% of what sets high performers apart. The good news is that, just like any other skill, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed.

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence (sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand emotions (both yours and others around you), and then manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, make sound decisions, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
Let me give you an example. Have you ever been in a meeting when it seems like everyone is talking over each other, trying to get the loudest or last word? This is not only a sign of egos taking over and a lack of respect for others; these are also tell-tale signs of a lack of EQ. On the other hand, when people are allowed to speak, and others listen, without constant interruptions, it’s a good sign of EQ at play. It shows a mutual respect and is more likely to lead to a constructive conclusion in meetings.

3 Steps to Developing EQ

EQ is often defined by four attributes, each of which is a skill that can be developed in order to improve your ability to manage emotions and connect with others. These skills are self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship management. Developing EQ starts with gaining insight into which aspect of EQ we should work on. Some of us may have solid social skills but lack in self-management while others may be high on self-awareness but poor in relationship management.

1. Assessment – The first step is measuring where we stand on each of the EQ attributes. EQ tests or quizzes are widely available online, or if you’re seeking training in a professional setting, there will be materials provided to you for assessing your emotional intelligence. The scores from the tests signal which emotional skills we need to learn, and where do we stand as an emotionally aware human being.

2. Training – Assessment opens us to a range of training options. Depending on what part of emotional intelligence we need to work on, we can decide what sort of training would best suit us. There’s no shortage of resources to support the development of EQ, including professional coaches, online activities and exercises, online EQ tools, online worksheets and workbooks, programs, workshops, webinars and videos (e.g. TED Talks, YouTube and even movies).

3. Practice – The final and the most important step of developing EQ is incorporating training into real life. Like any other training, it’s only productive when implementing in real-life situations. The skills and techniques from training can be used when: (1) interacting with people at personal and professional levels; (2) understanding and labeling our own emotions; (3) expressing what we feel in a way that will not upset others; and (4) understanding others’ feelings while listening to them without judgment.

Humans vary greatly in the way we experience emotions. Even after practice and effort, you can’t control how you feel, but you can control your reactions to those feelings. For example, you’ll still get angry, but by developing a method to deal with that anger, you work to avoid hurting yourself (and others). And remember, while you might excel at your job technically, if you can’t effectively communicate or collaborate with others, especially in stressful situations, those technical skills will eventually get overlooked. By developing EQ, you’ll continue to advance your career and your personal relationships.


By Richard Schwan, Executive Vice President, Affinity Credit Union

Have you flexed your muscles today?

A few years ago, I read an article [1] from Harvard Business Review (HBR) that altered my thought patterns and continues to make an impact on my daily life. It introduced me to my favourite muscle, resilience.





1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.


No, it doesn’t mean people with high resilience are always joyful and happy, a common misperception of the word. Instead, having resilience gives you the ability to not be so quick to label something that happens to you “good” or “bad”, but rather be quick to accepting what happened. Resilience is emotional elasticity at its finest.

The HBR article prompts you to alter your thinking and use the question “Good thing, bad thing, who knows?” when confronted with a situation. It allows you to self reflect and find a path of possibility. The more I’ve pondered this question when faced with situations over the years, the more strength I have in controlling my initial perception. Caution: it may cause you to become an eternal optimist and see the good in situations.

Check out this three-step process from HBR and reflect on a situation in your life where you could apply it:

Now I ask you…

Have you flexed your muscles today?



Alex Roettger

Creative Director | Saskatchewan Young Leaders

Weyburn Credit Union


What’s your view?

A couple of months ago I attended a seminar where I had the privilege of hearing Darci Lang, motivational speaker and author, she spoke to us about focusing on the 90%, the 90% positive that is. Before I attended I really took time to stop and think how I spend a normal day wondering, how it looked for me and whether or not I was focusing on the 90%.


Much to my surprise (and I like to consider myself a pretty positive person) I was literally focusing more on the negative than the positive. All the “hiccups” in a day – work, kids and home life and getting caught up in all the bad, if you will. I really couldn’t wait to hear what Darci had to say about how I could start focusing on the 90%.


From the moment she started speaking I was hooked – but there was one line that struck me… “how are you looking at life and everyday challenges?!” That was it! It was how I was choosing to see things! I needed to make a shift and look through a different “lens.” I needed to stop focusing on all the “hiccups” so to speak in a day because it was consuming me, I needed to start focusing on all the positives in a day, and believe you me the positives truly do outweigh the negatives. As soon as you shift that perspective or change your “lens” it’s quiet amazing how much it can change your outlook on a day.


So, while I was thinking of a topic to share with everyone this month, I knew this was the one I needed to share, “Focus on the 90%.” With all that is going on in the world right now let’s challenge ourselves to focus on the 90% instead of the 10%, start spreading the positive outlook on life and view life through a different lens.


March 16, 2020


Dear SYL Community,


It is with heavy hearts that we announce that we are postponing all in-person SYL events, including Retreat and the Young Leaders Inspiration Awards. These events were set to take place May 26-28, 2020.

As our province and Credit Unions manage the ongoing threat of COVID 19, we want to be proactive in supporting the health and safety of everyone within our communities. Pending updates from Provincial and Federal health authorities, we will update our event details as the situation pans out.


Thank you so much for your continued support; we look forward to seeing you at our events once the situation has passed.




2020 Saskatchewan Young Leaders Committee


Have You Pooped today?

Over the past three years, I have had the privilege to volunteer with the Saskatchewan Co-operative Youth program and serve as sector staff at their annual Co-op Camp. The first ever camp that I staffed was the junior level, ages 11-12. I’ll admit, I was nervous being responsible for 35 kids at a remote camp in northern Saskatchewan for a week. What I didn’t factor in was how nervous the kids would be as for some; this was their first experience being away from home and a completely new environment.

In the beginning, there were the first day jitters. By day two, friendships had been formed and the participants were much more social, however, they seemed to be tired, lethargic and complaining of upset tummies. All symptoms of being home sick or nervous to try something new. Suddenly, I was met with a question asked by another staff with an audience of 35, “Steph, have you pooped today?”

This quickly became a moment of reflection for me and I instantly connected this experience to my day to day work and personal life and it all made sense. I took a moment to reflect on my response as I had a very impressionable audience. Then, it hit me. These kids haven’t pooped! That is why they are so tired and lacked energy and focus. They were not hydrated enough, and their nerves had them completely bound up. I replied, “Yup, this morning! Everyone needs to poop!” This of course was met with hysterical laughter. After a few hours, the participants continued to joke about it and there was a lot of talk about poop. This resulted in them not being embarrassed to go and the energy level soared.

By now you are probably wondering how this relates to self-development? We all have things that make us nervous or worried and can hold us back from new experiences. We are naturally inclined to fear change and disruption. When you are met with situations that make you feel stuck, unproductive, nervous or disengaged, you might just need to poop! In other words, discard the things or ideas that are weighing you down and approach new situations refreshed and inspired. This is always easier said then done, and sometimes it’s the simple fact of being able to identify contributing factors that you can then start to chip away at that helps find relief. This has had such a big impact on my own personal and professional development in my career in the credit union system. Even telling this story to a room full of professionals at the National Young Leaders conference helped me to get over my fear of public speaking. I thought I might poop right then and there but it turned into a moment of strength and the opportunity for me to leave my nerves at the door and absorb as much as I could from that experience. It resulted in some incredible networking opportunities and resources.

I’ll leave you now with two requests. First, when you are met with challenges, disruption and change, ask yourself, have I pooped today? You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you are energized and fueled and leave behind the waste that weighs you down. Second, please remember to leave some toilet paper for the rest of us!

Stephanie Burkell SYL 2020 Vice Chair

Affinity Credit Union


The Brain & Business

Do you have an “Internal Monologue”?

A good friend of mine (Thanks Len!) recently shared a blog he came across around the internal monologue that I assumed we all have. You know what I’m saying right – that conversation you have with yourself inside your brain when mulling over a decision or contemplating life? I was stunned to realize that not everyone has this. What was even more shocking was the reaction of those who don’t do this. It got me thinking – what does the decision making process look like for these people? How do they weigh the pros and cons? For me – I almost have a debate inside my mind until I come to a decision. I can hear my own voice working through the options. It’s natural – it’s always been there. Reading the article was shocking yes, but it was also a good reminder for me that everyone thinks and processes things in a different way – and we always need to be conscious of that. My next goal – find out how these people so easily turn it off! Take a read for yourself – and prepare to have your mind blown!

Ryan Reiss
2020 Chair, Saskatchewan Young Leaders

Own Your Dash

I recently heard about “Own The Dash”.  Dakota Meyer is an American Veteran who’s spearheading this mission. The concept is simple, though it may have somewhat of a morbid undertone. When you die, your tombstone will read DOB-DOD. The two dates listed next to your name are the only ones you live with less than 24 hours in them. The days that contain a full 24 hours are the ones summarized by a single dash. What are you going to do with your dash? What will you do to leave an impact on people? In order to have a positive impact on others, you need to have a positive impact on yourself. What do you need to do to be your best self? How can you make the most of this day? Or month, or year? Extend that to your whole life. It might be something simple like drink more water. Eat the cake. Or DON’T eat the cake (again). Maybe take an art class, join a gym, bake something (and share it), or read a book. Maybe get your ass out of bed and in those runners!

We should also think about how we treat ourselves through external environments. How can we filter external influences in a way that best serve us and in turn those we love. Evaluate how you spend your time. We all know social media has a huge impact on our mental health, so filtering or limiting this is a good first step. If you scroll through negative tweets all day – quit. Both our physical and mental health requires a diet, so make sure it’s a healthy one. How and with who you spend your time affects your dash. Be with those who deserve you company. Spend time with people who make you better and happier.

Now the 2nd part of this is how do you leave a positive impact on people around you? I’m talking about your spouse, kids, family, friends, co-workers, and community. I’m also talking about people you meet one time. The kid you see at school drop off who is always by themselves. The person next to you in line for coffee. The new guy at the office. The person you see at Church once a year. What will you do for those people? How will you make them feel? I encourage you to be kind to them. Give them a smile. Ask for their opinions during meetings. Invite them to your kid’s birthday party. Take an extra snack to share. Tell them a classic Dad-joke or about your favorite episode of The Office. Lend them a book or buy their coffee. Join a volunteer group (or SYL *cough*). Hug people you love an extra second longer.

We need to be thankful for our dash. Look around; what are you grateful for? Not just one time, do this every day.

Your dash can make a difference.


Pamela Anderson, CPA, CGA

12 Days of Thought Leadership

A Time to Reflect