There is a saying that leaders are not born but are made. This is to suggest that leadership is a trait that can be taught. If this is so, individuals seeking a leadership post should study how to learn leadership traits.
When I entered the business world, I sought to grow my career. Like many others, I was encouraged to network with other professionals. Friends suggested I play golf with the boss. Some urged me to join certain social clubs. Later, I would learn leadership does not involve luck. It is a more exacting discipline.
When I became a member of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), I realized there was something I could glean from the Association. I found a network of likeminded professionals through which leadership skills would be cultivated.
As I would have expected, AACUC offered relevant educational content to help attendees grow their crafts. The dialog was timely, insightful, and robust. Like most any professional association, AACUC kept pace with the important topics of the day.
What’s particularly insightful about the AACUC community is the opportunity to grow emerging leaders. Leadership is a trait that improves one’s ability to be impactful. But for many, leadership can feel elusive at times. For these individuals, AACUC offers a place where leadership can be nurtured for development.
I have learned that leadership skills include hard and soft skills. The hard skills include the knowledge and abilities to perform in ones’ chosen discipline. One must master the technical aspects of their positions. Skills mastering is manifested through one’s work products. In some instances, hard skills are recognized with certifications, licenses, and industry achievements. The proficiency of hard skills is not necessarily an indication of leadership success.
Often overlooked is the necessity of leaders to master soft or interpersonal skills. Now, just because these traits are called soft should not lead one to discount their importance. Effective leaders understand the importance of being well-rounded in their capability to lead their teams.
AACUC is referred to as a laboratory because it offers its members opportunities to learn and practice interpersonal skills. The opportunities come in the format of workshops, seminars, and conferences. Members are encouraged to contribute thought leadership on critical issues. The intent is to build one’s presence in the industry.
Many professionals must wait for the precious opportunity to practice leadership. This is because advancement opportunity can be a scarcity. The challenge for emerging leaders is how to learn leadership skills before entering an arena where the practice leadership proficiencies are needed.
This is one of the value propositions organizations like AACUC offer its members. Members learn the interpersonal skills needed to amplify their technical abilities. These so-called soft skills include social decorum, communication skills, emotional intelligence, time management, and professional presence.
Emerging leaders are invited to hone their presentation skills at AACUC. Our diverse audiences readily encourage and coach participants with peer reviews. Members of AACUC collaborate to build resumes, pick up new experiences, and explore novel ways of thinking about the world.
The AACUC Lab is a full spectrum experience that readies its members for leadership advancement. This is a critical value for the Credit Union Movement where new talent is constantly needed for a growingly competitive marketing landscape.
When thinking about a lab, we often imagine experimenting with new ideas. Labs take untested specimens, put them in a controlled environment, and take note of the results. This is exactly what AACUC offers to its membership.
AACUC members take the skills learned in the organization to advance their careers to the C-Suite, undertake significant responsibilities, and launch new ventures. This is exactly what a lab does for its test subjects. AACUC members are given a platform on which to fine tune their talents.
Credit unions should think of AACUC as an extension of their talent development efforts. The employees they send to AACUC events come back more capable, trained, and motivated. The AACUC lab is a workshop for the Credit Union Movement.
AACUC invites other organizations and their employees to join its talent lab. The results will be the advancement of capable leaders for a more effective Credit Union Movement.