Q: What can I do more to develop my leadership skills when not in a leadership role?

Credit Union Young Leader:
Cindy Cheng
Digital Marketing Specialist

Credit Union:
G&F Financial Group

A: My credit union journey started four years ago as a co-op student while I was finishing up my BBA. I was in an entry level marketing role and did not identify myself as a leader because of my title and would often pass up opportunities for growth because I was afraid of the possibility of failure.

One day, with the encouragement of my manager, I cautiously took up an opportunity to start a young leader program at my credit union. It was at this point when I realized that being a leader is independent of the title that appears on your business card – being a leader is a mindset where any role can be defined as a “leadership role”, even if it’s not a management role. This shift in mindset allowed me to take advantage of the many opportunities provided by the credit union system to develop my leadership skills. Here are three things I learned along the way that have helped me develop these skills:

Get out of your comfort zone
Growth happens outside of your comfort zone – so get out of it! Every challenge, as daunting as they may initially seem, is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the people around you. Having self-awareness is a leadership skill that is often overlooked, but important to have.

Never stop learning
Not only can it help boost your confidence, it can also help you get a different perspective on problems and how to solve them. While learning can take place through traditional courses, it can also take place in the workplace. Ask to sit in on a department meeting outside of yours to get a better understanding of your organization and the people who support it.

Create something from scratch
One of the best ways to develop a large range of skills, including leadership skills, is to start something (preferably something you are passionate about). That blog you’ve been thinking about starting? Start it! Whether it be a group or business, embrace the different challenges that will come your way and learn from them.