The Essence of Leadership

We have all heard the question ‘What makes a good leader?’ many times in our lives. There are always a few common answers such as dedicated, loyal, intelligent and driven, among others. All of these are good and certainly valuable to a leader, but I believe there is one dominant trait that all leaders need to have if they want to succeed in leading others. Trust.

Colin Powell knows a thing or two about Leadership. He was the first African-American to be Secretary of State and was the youngest ever Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the US Government.

I encourage you to take a moment to watch this quick video about Mr. Powell’s experiences with trust and leadership. Then take a moment to think about your life and how there may be someone designated as a ‘leader’ because of their position or role, but if you don’t trust them, would you really ever go that extra mile for him/her? Think about the leaders in your life that you do trust – having trust in those leaders makes you more willing to work a little harder, give a little more, and follow them around the next corner even when the going gets tough.

Darren Enns

What does it mean to be a member of the SYL Community?

  • Your peers see you as an honest, trustworthy and committed team member. You look at the positive things in life and are focused as winning as a group.
  • Your leader sees you as being committed to action and oriented towards the solutions by embracing change and supporting your team members through the change.
  • Your members see you as passionate about strengthening the credit union system and the member experience.
  • Your friends see you as supportive, compassionate and fun-loving.
  • You see yourself as someone who supports the cooperative values of being part of the credit union system. You are willing to take risks and are focused on improving yourself personally and professionally.

If this is you, sign up to be part of the SYL Community today! If you are already a member of the SYL Community, see the link below to update your information. If you know other young leaders in the CU System in Saskatchewan, encourage them to join the Community as well!

Click here to sign up or update your information!

Thank you to all of our Sponsors!

Thank you to our wonderful Credit Union Sponsors, without who we wouldn’t be able to engage the young leader community in Saskatchewan.

#partnerships #collaboration SYL and CUMA

Your SYL Committee was fortunate to be invited to present at CUMA’s regional meetings in September. Thank you to CUMA for the opportunity!

#partnerships #collaboration

Community Member Blog Opportunity!

Check out our website for the latest blog, written by one of our fabulous Community members, Ashley Hamilton from Prairie Centre CU! We love Ashley’s passion and the idea of having our Community members contribute to the monthly blogs to share their insights and experience. Here’s your chance to share your story! If you have something you’d like us to share, send it to us!

All submissions will be considered. Submissions will be accepted by email. We’d love to hear from you!

Upcoming Virtual Learning Session


Stay Tuned!

Upcoming Virtual Learning Session with the fabulous Janet Lee on November 23, 2016!

Janet presented on the topic of “Personal Branding” at our Retreat in August and helped us all to learn more about our core values and our strengths and how to utilize them to benefit us in our personal and professional lives. Weren’t able to attend the Retreat?! This session will still prove valuable for you!

Sign up today!

SYL 2017 Funding


The SYL Committee has prepared the 2017 Business Plan and a request for funding was submitted to all the Credit Unions in July, with a request for response by November 15th. We have received responses and valuable comments from several CU’s already! Thank you for your continued support!

SYL 2016 Retreat Recap

The 1st ever SYL Personal Branding Retreat was held August 23rd & 24th at Shekinah Retreat Center. 44 young leaders from across the system participated in the day and a half event. Jamal Tekleweld, from the Saskatchewan Cooperative Association, started Day 1 with a high energy presentation. He focused on the 7 Cooperative Principles and helped the attendees to re-connect to their cooperative roots. Jamal inspired the audience to be proud of the things that separate Credit Unions from the banks. “Jamal breathed life and excitement into it and I learned a lot about Co-operatives”


Tara McKeown, from Conexus CU, lead a conversation around ‘Navigating Your Career’. She spoke very openly about her personal career path and provided the group with valuable advice. She stressed the importance of keeping your nose clean and using the 3M rule: If you are not ok with your Mom, your Mentor, or the Media seeing your social media posts or your actions, you should probably think twice about posting it. She also stressed the importance of being yourself and she challenged the group to define what success would mean to each one of us. “Respect the relationship of power; Respect the power of relationships” 

Neil Cooper of Conexus CU presented the third session titled “Career & Succession Planning” that he adapted to include “Personal Development & Living Your Passions”. Neil also shared his personal journey with the group and challenged the attendees to evaluate themselves, re-discover core values, define success and seek real time feedback, in order to continue to grow. He also encouraged the young leaders to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”.

Toward the end of day 1, Jamal lead an activity called Diversity Headbands where observers witnessed the power of labeling/ stereotyping when the participants were forced to interact with a partner, not knowing what ‘label’ they were wearing. Conversations were uncomfortable and it was a reminder to treat each other with equality.

On Day 2, Janet Lee from the Story Co facilitated the Personal Branding Workshop. Attendees worked their way through the “My Big Brave Personal Brand” workbook in order to define a tagline. A single statement that would encompass the highest and most unique value each individual has to offer. A variety of activities accompanied the workbook. Each attendee completed a Fascinate Assessment prior to attending, and received a report which outlined their ‘Fascination Advantages’ and personalized ‘Archetype’. Solutions to system challenges were discussed in breakout sessions and an activity took place where each attendee received one word descriptions of how they are seen by their peers. The self-evaluation accompanied by the activities and peer involvement led each attendee to discovering the value they have to offer their organization and other aspects of their life.

Thank you to all of the Retreat Sponsors!

Concentra Financial

Calidon Equipment Leasing
Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation
Olive Waller Zinkhan & Waller LLP


Thank you also to our door prize donors: First Canadian Title, National Young Leaders Committee, Prairie Sun Brewery, Genworth, Golden Opportunities, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Prairie Proud, CCUA, Crossroads CU and SaskCentral

SYL 2017 Funding The SYL Committee has prepared the 2017 Business Plan and a request for funding was submitted to all the Credit Unions in July, with a request for response by November 15th. We have received responses and valuable comments from several CU’s already! Thank you for your continued support!

We are Recruiting New Committee Members!

“Leaders are those people who both inspire towards dreams but also who put first the thriving of their team – not as an afterthought, but as a priority” Josh Noble, Unity CU

Calling all young leaders! The SYL Committee is recruiting new committee members for 2 year terms starting January 2017. If you are passionate about your career, the credit union system, our values and beliefs and want to engage in meaningful discussions surrounding the challenges and opportunities and play an active role in providing solutions, then we want you! The application process will open October 24th, watch the CUniverse and the information will be sent out to the SYL Community via email.

Summer Leadership Opportunities

Finally, summer has arrived! The kids are out of school and the out of office replies are in full force. Whether you’re the one taking holidays or the one left at the office to hold the fort, this seems to be the time of year leadership skills are being developed without even realizing it.

Have you ever known someone who is quite happy to coast along at their job, confident in their abilities, willing to take on projects when asked, but never really taking that plunge toward leadership? When the boss is away, have you ever seen that person step up and take the lead? Sometimes, we are forced to take action when we least expect it. It can be scary and uncomfortable, but the result can be empowering and rewarding. We never know what we are capable of unless we try.

Even outside of work, are we recognizing the opportunities to grow and utilize our leadership skills? Maybe with a kid’s summer camp, a slow pitch team, a community event, or planning a family reunion. Each of us has been a leader in some aspect of our life.

Being able to recognize those opportunities is a vital part of growing your own leadership skills. But are we also able to recognize the potential in others so that we can encourage them to grow?

I think one of the best qualities in a leader is the ability to step back and let us figure it out on our own. As J. Sakiya Sandifer said, “True leaders don’t create followers…they create more leaders.” It’s like watching a parent teaching their child to walk. They hold the baby’s hand, providing the needed support at first but eventually have to let go. If you give someone the opportunity to take those first steps on their own, it can lead to great things.

Leaders and leadership opportunities are all around us. How will you make the most of your leadership journey this summer and beyond?

Brittany Halkyard
Deposit Services Assistant
Crossroads Credit Union

Shaping Your World…Career Pathing


We live and work in a world of constant change.  Change is continual and the nature of change is changing.  Years ago, stability used to be the driver of a successful business – prices only changed slightly, people stayed in the same jobs for their entire career…life was good!  Now, rapid technology change, global competition and changes in socio-demographic trends require credit unions to be ready for constant fast-paced change.  I asked myself recently how I can be ready for and adapt to change.  The connection I made is that I need to focus on managing my career in order to lead change within SaskCentral and the CU system.  Here are 7 tips and tricks that I have learned on career development:

  1. Own it – your career is just that: YOUR career.  Career development should be employee-owned, manager facilitated and organization sponsored.  Take control of your own career.  Your manager should be there to support and challenge you and ask rather than tell you what to do.
  2. You can never have too many self-assessments – In order to manage your career, you must understand your strengths, values, skills and weaknesses.  This is about reflection of who you are and what you like to do.  One easy assessment tool is to select your seven top values in your career. A few of my top values are working in a team environment, feeling challenged intellectually and having flexibility and time freedom.  What are your top values?  List them in order of importance.  Then identify those values that are aligned with your current work situation.  If one or more of your values are not being met, ask yourself, what steps can you take to move towards alignment?  It is important to look for alignment between your top values and your vision of career success.  There are many self-assessment tools available, such as DiSC Profile or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and also many free tools online that you can use.
  3. Validate your self-assessments – Once you have completed the self-assessments, it is important to validate those assessments.  The key here is to ask your co-workers, manager, friends and family – people who know and work with you – to share feedback on the strengths, values, skills and weaknesses you have come up with.  Do they agree with the strengths, values, skills and weaknesses you have identified?  Ask them to identify additional areas you can focus on or additional strengths and weaknesses you might not have thought of.
  4. Establish a career vision and set goals – I recently attended a career development workshop where the facilitator shared how to create a career vision and set goals to achieve the vision.  The facilitator shared an interesting perspective on how to establish short and long term goals.  She believed that career management is less about the next position you want to attain and more about building skills and experience.   Often, you may focus on achieving a certain role or position within a company, rather than focusing on the skills and experience you need to have a successful career.  Think of it this way – if your goal is to become the next CEO or general manager at your credit union, but the CEO position is filled with a younger leader who will likely be in that role for 10 or 15 years, you are likely to be disappointed because your chances of getting that position are low. The facilitator also suggested that we work on 2-3 week timeframes when setting short term goals.  This allows the goals to be smaller and more manageable.  So establish a career vision by determining what career success would mean for you.  Then use short timeframes to achieve your career success.
  5. Be prepared to answer the question “Tell me about yourself” – This is a classic interview question but is one that you should be ready to answer in all situations.  The key is that rather than focusing on the position you have or where you have worked, you should come up with a 30 second elevator pitch that addresses your skills, attributes and values.  Here is an excerpt of what I have come up with to answer the question:  “I am confident individual, role model and coach who strives for excellent performance and challenges my team to meet our department and corporate goals.  I embrace accountability and openness to creative ideas so that I can encourage problem solving and work towards a culture of continuous improvement.”  As you can see, this doesn’t state that I am a senior analyst at SaskCentral.  Instead, it focuses on the skills and values of what I do in my role as a senior analyst.
  6. Challenge yourself – Development of skills doesn’t occur within your comfort zone.  Once you have identified the skills you would like to develop to achieve career success, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone in order to develop those skills.
  7. Build your network – This is about getting to know people with different skills and viewpoints in order to expand your own skills and experience.  Try to expand your network further than like-minded people – look for people whose strengths are your weaknesses.  When you are building your network, it is important to have three types of people as part of your network: 1) Mentor, 2) Good listener and 3) Devil’s advocate.  Your network should include people with different perspectives and individuals that can help with various aspects of your career.

Our generation (Generation X and Y) generally looks for variety and we are likely change jobs more frequently than the Baby Boomers.  Remember that your career will be a winding path, not a linear one.  I will leave you with one last point to kick start planning your own winding career path.  Ask yourself what do you do that makes you feel most successful and fulfilled in your career?  What activities were you involved when you felt most successful or fulfilled?  Who were you working with?  What skills were you using?  If you can answer these questions, you will be able to start to understand what you will define as career success.

Ashley Kennedy, CPA, CA
Senior Analyst, Accounting & Reporting, SaskCentral