I have over the years attempted and striven to model my own leadership style around some of these key points as the complexity of business has evolved and with the increased demands of my time as a business leader and senior executive.

An effective leadership style is one that inspires the organization’s management team and staff to work hard while at the same time earning their respect.  It is important to lead through mutual respect instead of fear and intimidation.

Much has changed since I entered the workforce and so has the expectations many organizations have of their leaders.  Organizations invest greatly in building an organizational culture. A strong organizational culture allows the organization to attract and retain the best talent in the marketplace thus allowing the organization to meet its strategic objectives.

A traditional management style of power and control and telling people what to do does not retain excellent employees.  An effective leadership style requires one to engage employees and inspire them to want to work hard for the organization. This style requires collaboration and partnership rather than control and power. The work environment needs to be supportive and collaborative.

Delegate tasks and authority then hold the delegated accountable. As a leader, I am expected to deliver results through others.  My role is to support the growth of the staff at all levels by removing obstacles and coaching them to solve problems.  We need to allow our employees the freedom to tackle projects and issues on their own while being available for questions and support. The key is to trust our employees and allow them to take ownership of their jobs.

Build the team. Listen twice as much as one speaks.  Actively seek out and listen to the ideas of others.  In doing so, I should be able to find out what others think instead of inserting my own opinions.   I cannot solve problems for employees.  I need to ask questions and guide them to finding the answers for themselves. By helping employees to think critically, we’re collectively developing them to take on broader roles and more responsibility.

Take an interest in people. An important element of leadership is connecting with people.  People want to work for a leader who is genuine and takes and interest in them personally.

Be authentic. I do not need to know all the answers. Great leaders admit mistakes and seek out help when they need it.

Set clear goals and expectations. Set clear expectations and deadlines for the management team.  Being transparent about what is  expected from others leaves little room for interpretation and empowers them to succeed. Assigning deadlines doesn’t mean one is being heavy handed. Being clear and straightforward about what is expected enables others to plan their work schedule and deliver results.

Develop an ongoing coaching relationship. Provide regular feedback and recognition to develop employees professionally.  Hold regular meetings to gain their feedback and opinions, provide specific feedback, and understand their professional goals. The individual attention you give others will foster an open and trusting relationship. This is one of the most important roles as a leader and needs to be at the top of any senior executive’s priority list.

Mentor. To grow my own leadership skills, continue to seek out the advice of other leaders I admire and trust. Find someone you can turn to in challenging situations who can give me an objective view and provide suggestions based on their experiences.  Soak up as much information as I can so I can apply it to my own leadership.

Take a global approach. Be knowledgeable in other areas of the credit union in addition to my own functional area.  Part of my role as a leader is to help others understand how their job impacts the whole organization.

Become a life-long learner. Always seek to improve your leadership abilities. One won’t be successful if one is stagnant. Invest in your own professional development.

Lead by example. Have a reputation of being trustworthy, and others will turn to you for help when they need it.

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