This blog post is part of the Next Top Credit Union Executive competition originally posted July 2, 2014.

Credit unions are prime for the next generation of leaders who move with agility, flexibility, and a strong commitment to what they care about.  The work we do with people who have been in long time leadership roles, and those who are emerging into their potential leadership, has taught me the same thing over and over.

The fundamental source of  ‘power’ as a leader is the self, who you are as a person, the shape of your identity, and how you take effective action in coordination and collaboration with others. There are two other sources that inform leadership – technical skills and your intellect.  Yet, without the fundamental knowledge of who you are as a leader, your technical skills and intellect are underutilized.

Understanding yourself as a leader is not easy.  It is a lifelong journey that starts the day you make a commitment to uncover, reveal, and access your true potential, which can be intimidating and scary.  Yet, accessing the value you are as a leader is the ultimate step to being seen as an exemplary leader. Without stepping up and taking risks to explore your potential, you will remain status quo as the world changes around you.  Wouldn’t you rather be making the change in the world?

Making the commitment to be an exemplary leader means changing your behavior and adopting new practices in alignment with your personal vision.  You might feel vulnerable and cause a stir amongst peers and others.  And, yet, you will feel more aligned, able to manage multiple commitments with greater ease, be seen as a valued resource while you shape your identity as an exemplary leader.

Submitting your application for the Next Top Credit Union Executive might be a new phenomenon, an unfamiliar action that puts you in the spotlight.  Tremendous! I see this competition, for all contestants win or lose, as a unique opportunity to reflect on how you came you be in your current leadership role and to envision what’s next in your learning.   This is an opportunity for you to step out and up into your potential.

Being effective in taking risks requires:

  • A personal declaration of how you want to be or be seen as a leader.
  • Practices that support your leadership growth.
  • Practice partners who support you on your leadership journey.
  • Commitment to something you care about.
  • Rigorous self-accountability to your commitment.

Look for opportunity in your credit union and step into it.  Use your talents, skills, expertise, and education to make an offer that will expand your capacity as a leader.  Does this feel risky?  Maybe so, yet consider the alternative . . . . status quo for life!

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