I was recently asked, “How do you engage people who think they have nothing left to learn?” My answer? Position them to teach. As we progress in our careers and become credible subject matter experts, we often neglect our own continuous development due to time constraints, even though we know it’s important to stay sharp. Teaching others is a surefire way to keep learning while leveraging our expertise.
Teaching comes in various forms. It can take place in staff meetings, where we share insights and impart knowledge to our teams. Leadership forums offer opportunities for engaging with fellow executives in knowledge-sharing sessions. Sometimes we are panelists at conferences or guest speakers at local colleges or universities so we can share our expertise with a broader audience and contribute to the growth of the movement. For example, Rachel Schaming, CHRO/SVP at We Financial, Margate, Florida, presented at our September event about how to approach difficult conversations. And 2021 CUES Emerge winner Alex Hsu has twice returned as a mastermind, helping participants with their business plans and presentations.
Teaching also happens one on one with direct reports and mentees, both on staff and at the board level investing the time to make sure they fully grasp key concepts or demonstrate needed skills.
And let’s not forget credit union leaders who get so passionate about big ideas that as they go about their regular work, they also teach everyone they meet about their passion—whether that’s injecting equity into lending, the triple win of sponsoring young credit union professionals to be board members at other credit unions, helping a community recover from a series of financial hits, or showing federal workers that their credit union is poised to help them get through a government shutdown.
And last, but certainly not least, trusted industry suppliers and credit union service organizations are teachers, too, when they share their technical expertise directly with clients or in a conference setting.
Teaching as self-development
Several years ago, I was asked to fill in at the last minute and lead a breakout session on a topic—housing affordability in Texas—where I had beginner status at best. I had much less time to prepare than I would have preferred, but despite the initial pressure, the experience proved to be immensely valuable for my growth as a leader.
The compressed timeline forced me to intensely focus on the key points of the topic. I had to prioritize and structure the content efficiently to deliver valuable insights. I didn’t try to fake it. Instead I openly brought in outside resources, asked many open-ended questions, and tapped into the room’s collective experience and insight, making the session interactive and the content richer.
It was a big relief that the participant feedback after the session was excellent, including a comment that read, “Perfect—the speaker hit the high points without unnecessary fluff.” Little did they know!
So what? As “seasoned” and “expert” as we may become over time, adaptability and thinking on our feet remain critical skills. Sharing our knowledge isn’t just about visibility, brand presence or even giving back. It can also be an important act of self-development. So, if you find yourself thinking you don’t have time to learn, why not teach?
CUES membership offers lots of opportunities to learn through teaching. Why not join now and get early access to your 2024 membership benefits?