Young Professionals face the challenge of earning the respect of their more seasoned colleagues and overcoming millennial stereotypes. Lazy, uninspired and lacking commitment… just to name a few. Now take those same challenges and multiply them to the credit union industry, with the average credit union board member and CEO ages climbing and showing no signs of coming down. The signs are clear that credit union leadership is lacking valuable input on member needs and communication styles that only young professionals can provide. As the catalysts for change and innovation, it is more important than ever to learn to lead as a young professional. For those feeling out of their element as a young leader, follow these simple tips to ensure success:
1. Do your homework!
Before addressing the executive team with a suggestion or solution, be sure to have all the information you’ll need. Odds are you’ll quickly be asked a question meant to stump you. Prevent looking unprepared by gathering relevant information from colleagues and online research first. This will show your commitment to not only identifying problems but also following through to find the solution.
2. Get involved!
Engage with fellow young professionals within your credit union, credit union league chapters and young professional mixers hosted by your Chamber of Commerce or other local organizations offering networking opportunities. Chances are these like-minded individuals can relate to the same challenges, whether in regards to your organization or your personal career path and offer new insights or possible solutions.
3. Ask “Why?”
There’s nothing more detrimental to an organization than the mindset of “We’ve always done it this way.” By the same token, there’s nobody better posed to ask the question of “Why?” and provide fresh viewpoints to avoid stagnation. Pay attention to social cues that outline the appropriate moments and audiences to do so, which may sometimes lead to holding off on questions until a later time or to another department.
4. Have Confidence
Take a deep breath and hold your head high. Your self-confidence will carry you through, even if your new idea doesn’t. Remember that the best innovations usually start out as a mistake and that mistakes are not the end of the road. Take every conversation with your executive team as a learning experience to build upon!