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.

Leadership in the Face of Change

Leadership is certainly a hot button issue these days, particularly for us SYL community members. On resumes, in conferences, from the mouth of our managers and executives—leadership is something that we are all striving for. Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to move into a higher role within my Credit Union, and I was left wondering what it meant to be a leader when I was still learning what my new role was all about.

First and foremost when we look at someone who is an exceptional leader, we see someone who consistently puts out quality work. This was my first hurdle in carving out leadership opportunities for this new role. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, always continue learning and take ten minutes to do your research if you are confronted with a question that you just don’t know. One of the best pieces of advice that I was given is to respond honestly in all situations. People—whether they be members or fellow employees—don’t get angry when you don’t know something. What makes them angry is when you pretend to know and end up providing poor advice. I keep this tip with me daily; it can be difficult to admit that you don’t know something, but part of growing into an exceptional leader is just that—admitting what you don’t know and using it as a learning opportunity.

My next step was to take a good look at the role that I would be filling, and making the active decision to shape what it would look like for me. I have the knowledge of those before me who have taken on this position as a guide, but the day to day workings are something that needs to be set by myself. I try to say yes wherever possible, but I also work hard to manage expectations. Most importantly, I choose gratitude. When work feels overwhelming, I remember how grateful I am to have this opportunity to shine. When one of my coworkers helps me—even in a small way—I make sure to thank them. I take the time to plan for member’s appointments, and thank them for coming in. We are all busy, so when someone gives you their time that is something to be grateful for. Being a leader boils down to being in service of those around us, and encouraging them to be their best selves.

I am lucky enough to now be able to work in four different branches, each one with a different set of members, coworkers, joys and challenges. Prairie Centre is rurally based with 13 branches, and many of our staff work exclusively in their home branch. This opportunity has allowed me to gain so much varied experience, while still remaining with the same Credit Union. It has been enlightening to see how things are done in different locations, and has clarified the big picture PCCU goals. What I have strived to bring to each branch is a stability in my positon. They know who they are getting when I walk in the door in terms of both quality of work and personality. Conflict can arise in work situations—I believe that how you handle that conflict shines a light on what sort of leader you are. Using empathy, and professionalism, builds your credibility in the workplace. Choosing to diffuse the conflict rather than encouraging it can be exactly what sets you apart as a leader.

Ultimately, I have discovered that taking on a new challenge shouldn’t derail you from your leadership aspirations. Use the tools that you are given to look at what it means to lead with a fresh perspective. Remember that leadership doesn’t make you superior than your peers; it simply allows you to serve them in a new capacity. New challenges are simply new opportunities to grow.

Ashley Hamilton
SYL Community Member
Financial Specialist
Prairie Centre Credit Union

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