Q: How do I gain leadership experience when I'm not in a leadership role?


Credit Union Young Leader:
Erin Robinson
Vice President Corporate Partnerships and Member Benefits

Credit Union:
Vancity

A: While not easy, this is totally possible. Here are some of the tactics that have worked for me in my career:

Do something unexpected by others. For example, join an internal committee that has nothing to do with your job or propose a project idea that meets organizational goals and could be implemented by you, but is outside your normal accountabilities.

Use lateral moves. The best thing I ever did for my career was take huge risks on lateral moves – better than anything it showcases your extreme adaptability and resilience. You only need to do this once to convince people you can do it again, and it’s still surprisingly rare. You get these by knowing what your transferrable skills are, what are the ones you want to work on, and finding the jobs that support both.

Use Volunteer Roles. Get strategic about how you volunteer your time. There is no shortage of volunteer roles, and if you’re like me you will struggle to say no. Find organizations that fit a topical goal and then look for volunteer roles that will let you test skills in a safe environment, like chairing a committee or doing strategic fundraising. Remember leadership is a skill that is built over time. The myth of the overnight success is just that – a myth. Twitter took 2 years to take off. If they gave up after 2 weeks it would have failed. Place value is wisdom – and wisdom comes from doing – be patient with your career.