Young Professional Leadership and Career Development in North ...

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Young Professional Leadership and Career Development in North ...

Innovation Brief

Young Professional Leadership

and Career Development in

North American Credit Unions

Matt Weidler

Political Liaison and Asset Analyst

Evangelical Christian Credit Union

Foreword by James R. Detert

Associate Professor

Cornell University


About Us

Progress is the

constant replacing of

the best there is with

something still better!

— Edward A. Filene

The Filene Research Institute provides credit

unions with research, future-focused thinking,

and practical innovations to enable them to

prosper today while preparing for tomorrow’s

opportunities.

The name of the Institute honors Edward A. Filene, founder of the

Filene’s Department Store chain, who is considered the father of the

United States credit union system.

Since the Filene Research Institute’s inception in 1989, this 501(c)(3)

not-for-profit institute has collaborated with over 100 academic

institutions and credit union system partners to publish hundreds of

research studies. The entire research and innovation library is available

online at filene.org.

Copyright © 2012 by Filene Research Institute. All rights reserved.

Printed in U.S.A.


Acknowledgments

Filene would like to thank CUNA Mutual Group for its generous

support of the Cooperative Trust. This innovation brief is just one

result of CUNA Mutual’s commitment

to the future of credit unions.

A deep debt of gratitude is owed to

the Cooperative Trust (formerly the

Crash Network), a national network of young credit union professionals

devoted to the preparation of the next generation of credit

union leaders. Though the idea and passion for this project were

mine, the Cooperative Trust provided the networking opportunities

necessary to identify willing and meaningful contributors for the

case studies as well as the accountability necessary to push the project

forward.

Foremost, I am grateful for the contributions of Devin Selte, my

Canadian counterpart from Servus Credit Union, headquartered in

Edmonton, Alberta. Devin’s success with the Servus Young Leaders

Network (SYLN) has been so phenomenal that it has received

international attention. Devin himself has been recognized as the

2011 Credit Union Executive Society (CUES) Next Top Credit

Union Executive award winner and one of the 12 Credit Union

Times Trailblazers 40 Below award winners for 2011, in recognition

of his success with the SYLN. Devin has been privileged to travel to

Europe and Australia to participate in conferences related to credit

union emerging leadership.

Second, I would like to thank Aaron Burnham for providing information

related to the leadership training program at Credit Union of

Southern California (CU SoCal). Aaron’s willingness to provide policies

and procedures from CU SoCal’s program, as well as describing

his personal experience in the program, was instrumental to developing

that case study.

Finally, I was pleased to have the privilege of working alongside Brian

Stearns as he provided feedback and edits on the various working

drafts of this brief. Brian’s passion for developing the qualities of

success in his coworkers and his desire to create a collaborative team

among the up-and- coming leadership at his credit union is a credit

to his servant’s heart. Brian has extensive experience in leadership

through academic, community service, and church organizations and

has worked to bring his experience from these endeavors to a leadership

program within Farmers Insurance Group FCU.

iii


Foreword

by James R. Detert,

Associate Professor

Cornell University

In this brief, Matt Weidler describes several efforts to build career

development networks for aspiring leaders. The brief raises a number

of interesting questions for current credit union leaders about

their talent pipeline, such as why these efforts are largely seen as the

primary responsibility of the individual rather than the organization

itself. After all, one need not look far or hard to find examples of

once-venerated organizations now on the brink of failure (or actually

out of business) because the successes created by one generation of

leadership were not sustained by the next generation. Thus, just as it

would seem irresponsible for an organization to hope its strategy or

business systems would develop themselves without serious attention

and investment from top management, it should also seem irresponsible

to do relatively little to develop the organization’s future leaders.

Indeed, for this reason, many of the world’s most successful organizations

devote entire staffs, buildings, and millions of dollars annually

to internal leadership development. Apple University, GE’s Leadership

Development Center, and Infosys’s Leadership Institute are

prominent examples of how seriously some of the world’s great companies

take this process. Thus, it is disheartening to read that many

credit union leaders may feel that leadership development is primarily

something people should do for themselves. With this attitude, it

won’t be surprising if many who do develop themselves primarily on

their own time and dime end up leaving the credit union industry

for more lucrative career opportunities elsewhere. (It’s well known in

business schools, for example, that when employers pay for a good

portion of executive MBA students’ tuition, those graduates tend

to stick with their company for some time; when students pay their

own way, their new credential is often used to seek employment elsewhere.)

So, my first observation about Weidler’s brief is that rather

than be comforted by the initiative shown by young professionals in

their industry, senior credit union leaders should be alarmed because

it seems to indicate a critical gap in the human resource function of

the credit unions themselves.

A second observation relates to what academics call “issue selling”—

that is, the process of presenting ideas to managers one or more levels

higher up in the hopes of gaining attention, commitment, and/or

resources. As Weidler correctly points out, when career development

networks seek to gain support from their credit union, they would

be wise to consider aspects of the firm’s culture and the attitudes of

key personnel who must be sold on the investment in such networks.

Here are a couple of important considerations:

• Should you sell the importance of this network to the credit

union using primarily an instrumental/economic frame or a

iv


normative/cultural frame The former would involve explaining

the expected financial benefits that investing in this network

could provide, while the latter would prioritize how investing in

this network is consistent with (and maybe even required by) the

credit union’s core principles.

• Should the importance of the network be presented as pursuing

an opportunity or dealing with a threat to the credit union

The former frame would excite growth-oriented senior managers

while the latter might work better for steward-type managers who

might be more swayed by the fear of what might happen if the

talent pipeline isn’t appropriately nurtured.

There are many other considerations to keep in mind when attempting

to sell senior management on an investment in a career development

network, such as how scripted or formulaic the pitch should

be and what the right venue and right timing for pitching the idea

might be. Sellers also want to consider what is known about the

target managers that might be useful in selling them the idea: Do

you know anything about their professional motives that might make

them amenable to supporting you Or do you know anything about

their personal lives that would warm them up to your proposal For

example, as Weidler alludes to, it might be important to consider

how the HR professionals responsible for leadership selection or

development at the credit union could see this as a threat to their

own role and, thus, how to frame the matter as something that will

be a “win” for them professionally, too.

I also found myself wondering about the overall objectives of these

networks, and how the programs may or may not currently be best

suited to meet those objectives. Are the primary goals related to

personal support and motivation Knowledge attainment To obtain

key experiences To find strong mentors Getting clear about these

objectives is critical because it’s hard to constitute career development

networks with the right people and the right activities without

answering these questions. For example, if your goal is to support

and motivate would-be credit union leaders, then it may make sense

to have membership be fairly homogeneous—aspiring leaders who

know and like one another, are at a similar career stage, and so forth.

But if the goal is to give would-be leaders actual developmental

opportunities, with guidance, then it seems critical to constitute the

group somewhat differently. From my perspective, one of the critical

aspects of leadership development that is not described as a key part

of the programs mentioned is actual experience undertaking a leadership

challenge. Of course, this is precisely why cooperation from

credit union senior leadership is needed, but the importance of this

cannot be overlooked. If you really want people to develop leadership

capability, they have to lead. And ideally they’ll lead in a way that

v


involves a rigorous process of assessment, feedback, and mentoring.

Reading leadership theory and biographies, hearing from other leaders,

and even having a mentor are necessary. But they’re insufficient.

Career development networks will be most successful when they

partner with organizations that can offer their members chances to

actually lead.

Finally, I urge those developing career development networks to

become as clear as possible about their answer to the “what’s in it for

me” (WIFM) question. Even if you get support from credit union

management, failure to have a clear answer for employees who wonder

what’s in it for them will cause you to flounder. Weidler’s brief

notes that in one of the programs, only one qualified supervisor signed

up in the first year, which suggests that the WIFM question hadn’t

been sufficiently addressed. In my experience, the simple reality is

that the people whom organizations most want to develop are those

who are already the busiest. And organizations often add responsibilities

without taking any away. So, if you’re already a busy supervisor

and you’re not incredibly clear on what you might gain—personally

or professionally—from a new career development network, it’s not

surprising that what has to get done will trump what might be useful

for your future. This brings us back to where I started—the importance

of senior credit union leaders understanding the value of talent

development and being willing to put some real skin into the game.

After all they are the ones who can decide this is important enough

to do on company time.

vi


Executive Summary and Commentary

by Ben Rogers,

Research Director

“The cemeteries are full of indispensable men.” Variously attributed

to French general Charles de Gaulle or (more plausibly) to American

writer Elbert Hubbard, the phrase is a mordant reminder that, in

business as in life, every leader will move along. The best will make

sure somebody is ready to replace them.

The Filene report Employee Voice and (Missed) Opportunities in Credit

Unions (2010) shows that there are far too many ideas floating

around in credit unions that leaders and managers never even hear.

In that study of 11 credit unions and thousands of employees, fully

61% of workers reported having at least one business improvement

idea that they never shared with decision makers. Many of those

ideas were, no doubt, bad; but a few of them were certainly gems.

And as credit unions constantly replace their workforces with new or

young employees, those employees bring human capital in the form

of energy and ideas.

Hiring employees, training employees, and even working side by side

with employees are often just precursors on the path toward getting

access to those ideas and setting up those employees to be the next

generation of leaders.

What Is the Research About

This innovation brief responds to a question often asked by those

on the bottom or middle rungs of the credit union ladder: How do I

become a leader here The contributors cited here acknowledge that

they may not be ready for the big job tomorrow, but they still want

to make progress in the meantime. They want the next rungs to be

accessible, and if those rungs are not accessible, they are willing to

work until they are.

But the research is more than a description. It provides a step-bystep

guide for concerned leaders, HR professionals, or young strivers

themselves to build the steps they feel are missing. And rather than

focus on wholesale reinvention, it encourages a measured approach

that calls for acknowledging and joining existing programs if they are

already in place. But above all, the three case studies and checklists

encourage action, which is a direct outgrowth of the Cooperative

Trust (formerly the Crash Network), which helps up-and- coming

credit union leaders focus on action and creation and ways to make

their mark.

vii


What Are the Credit Union

Implications

Like any company, credit unions must build ways to identify,

encourage, and promote future leaders. But the mandate may be particularly

strong at credit unions, whose unique structure and often

low profile in the hiring market can make it hard to get and keep the

leaders they need.

One of the clearest takeaways is that passion is not enough. Wanting

to make a difference and develop professionally are commendable

but incomplete. This brief argues for aspiring leaders to learn

an early leadership lesson: To be most effective, personal goals must

align with company goals. If they don’t, then even well- intentioned

projects will probably not attract the attention or support they need.

The author condenses excellent advice into several steps for anyone

looking to form a professional development or rising leadership

group:

1. Assess what’s out there. Don’t reinvent the wheel if adding to, or

simply joining, an ongoing initiative will do. Also, evaluate the

HR and external business environments into which you want to

introduce the group.

2. Establish a goal. Clearly define, in as few statements as possible,

what you would like the group to accomplish.

3. Get a few people on board. Build relationships with peers and

superiors that can help sustain the initiative.

4. Get a sponsor. A current leader who is interested in the project

and has the clout to sustain it is invaluable.

5. Spread the word. Formal and informal channels are key, and a

small passionate group can be better than a diffuse cluster.

6. Build partnerships. Once you’ve started, look for internal and

external partnerships to help you maintain momentum and grow.

7. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Use your initial goals as a guide stick,

but don’t be afraid to switch, narrow, or expand your focus as the

group rolls along.

Not only are these seven steps important, but completing them in

order is important, too. The three case studies prove that where organizers

fell short, it was often because they ignored a step or simply

hurried their enthusiasm into the later steps too soon.

Great individuals may be dispensable, but great leaders are always in

demand. Use this brief to help grow them at your credit union.

viii


About the Authors

Matt Weidler

Matt Weidler has worked in the credit union system for seven years,

all of that time with Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU) in

Brea, California. At ECCU, he has served as the credit union’s political

liaison for five years in addition to his role in the IT department.

Matt has received several distinctions in the industry, including being

the inaugural winner of CO-OP Financial Services’ THiNK Prize

and being selected as one of the Credit Union Times Trailblazers

40 Below Award winners for 2011.

Matt has a master’s degree in political science from California State

University, Fullerton.

James R. Detert

James R. Detert is an associate professor of management at Cornell

University. Professor Detert’s research focuses on three topics: (1) the

antecedents, processes, and outcomes of improvement-oriented voice

from subordinates to authorities in work organizations, (2) leadership

processes, behaviors, and outcomes, and (3) ethical decision

making and behavior, particularly the sociocognitive processes and

mechanisms of moral disengagement. His research has appeared in

the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management

Review, the Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, and

the Harvard Business Review. Detert received an MA in sociology and

a PhD in organizational behavior from Harvard University. He also

holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota and a BBA from

the University of Wisconsin.

ix


Recommendations

Because of the small number of case studies currently available, the

wide difference in the implementation of programs, and the nature

of human systems and organizations, it just isn’t possible to provide

a definitive method for establishing a career development program

in any situation. Instead, this brief attempts to outline some general

guidelines based on similar experiences and inferences about how

the characteristics of individuals, credit union cultures, and business

constraints affect the creation of young leadership programs.

The cases studied here suggest that the number one factor in the successful

implementation of a career development program is the existence

of a passionate sponsor. While that seems rather obvious, it’s

worth pointing out for one very important reason: The intentionality

that is required in sacrificing short-term goals for long-term development

means that career development does not happen by accident.

Left on autopilot, organizations and managers will usually respond to

the most pressing concerns of the day in order to make sure the business

continues to function. According to research by Hay/McBer, the

coaching style of leadership, though one of the most important styles

for developing healthy organizations, is the least commonly used of

the six styles their research identified. 1

If you are in upper management or HR, I recommend that you consider

the efforts of Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal)

in the development of its young leaders. The investments it is making

do not cost very much, and the program is mostly self- directed

by participants. CU SoCal is uniquely preparing its future leaders for

working not just in the credit union system but specifically within

their credit union’s culture and structure. Your credit union can easily

adapt CU SoCal’s program to your requirements and begin training

high- potential employees in very little time.

If you aren’t in management and you’re reading this brief, then it’s

time for you to assume the role of the passionate career development

program sponsor for your credit union. Waiting around for someone

else to do it won’t reflect well on your leadership potential.

In the next section you’ll find a checklist that will guide you through

the detailed steps of beginning a healthy career development network

(or if you prefer, a young leaders network). This checklist

was designed in consideration of the experiences of our case study

contributors. The remainder of this section is devoted to a high-level

discussion of the strategies in implementing a career development

network.

Every group needs a purpose. What we find in comparing the launch

of ECCU’s Career Development Network (CDN) with the Servus

2


Young Leaders Network (SYLN) is that defining a clear mission and

vision for the group, before trying to build excitement and momentum,

speeds up implementation and focuses the group on activities

that support its goals. Your peers who join the group will expect

the activities you orchestrate to reinforce the group’s goals, and they

will not continue to participate if they don’t feel you are successfully

achieving those goals.

Therefore, your first action should be to clearly define, in as few

statements as possible, what you would like the group to accomplish.

Consider, as an example, the CDN’s three organizational goals:

• Provide valuable career development opportunities.

• Encourage peer networking.

• Promote ground-up communication.

While these goals are broad enough to include a great number of

meaningful activities, they are specific enough to determine whether

an activity truly supports the group’s mission, and they provide a

baseline for establishing whether the group is living up to its purpose.

After determining what the goals for the group are, evaluate the climate

in which you want to introduce the group. The two main areas

of consideration here are the credit union’s management culture and

business environment.

When gauging your credit union’s management culture, consider

Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton’s managerial grid, which analyzes

management’s concern for production

against its concern for

After you’ve determined a vision and decided how (or whether)

people. 2 A management team

to engage your credit union’s management for support, it is

overly concerned with production,

for instance, is unlikely to

important that you begin to build the relationships that will

help you through the initial uncertainty of forming a career

respond positively to a recommendation

that employees

development network.

spend working hours improving

their career potential. On the other hand, a management team more

concerned with people than production is likely going to want to

participate actively with the group.

Another important aspect of the management culture is your HR

department’s aversion to risk. If your HR department is risk-averse,

individuals from this department will likely want to meet with you

to discuss how you will ensure that labor laws aren’t violated. They

may even offer advice on these subjects or apply pressure for you to

consider dropping the idea. On the other hand, if your credit union’s

HR department has a larger risk appetite, they may prove to be your

biggest proponent when asking for corporate resources. Be respectful

of the department’s needs and understand that career development

3


is often considered the HR department’s responsibility by the credit

union’s leadership.

Next, consider the business environment. If your organization is

understaffed or facing difficult times, it is unlikely that management

will support the group with on-the-clock meetings or financial

support. This does not mean that management will not support you

through its participation, but the realities of the business might not

make it possible for management to help you in other ways.

After you’ve determined a vision and decided how (or whether) to

engage your credit union’s management for support, it is important

that you begin to build the relationships that will help you through

the initial uncertainty of forming a career development network.

For this, I recommend that you identify a mentor you can go to for

guidance, as well as at least three peers who can serve alongside you

in leadership roles to help make activities happen.

For the mentor role, make sure the person you choose has a passion

for developing future leaders, has several years of experience in a

management position at your credit union, and is willing to let you

bounce ideas off him or her regularly. Your mentor can serve as the

go-to person when you run into hurdles or if you’re not sure what

the next move should be.

Whatever you decide to do, do it sooner rather than later. As was true with our case studies, there is

likely a core group of motivated young professionals at your credit union just waiting and hoping

for an opportunity to come along.

For your peer leaders, ensure that they have the time to commit to

the work that you will need them to do, are willing to sacrifice some

of their time to help their peers, and are enthusiastic about career

development. Since you will be working with this team a lot, be

sure that the individuals you choose have complementary skills and

personalities. Additionally, these individuals must be willing to work

through any conflicts that exist or may arise between you.

Finally, it’s important that you have a strong launch for your program.

Your first event should build excitement and momentum that

will carry your group through the uncertain few months of its initial

existence. Utilize resources at your organization, like highly visible

executives, to attract attendees, and even consider giveaways to draw

people in. For the first meeting, be sure to place a strong emphasis

on the new group’s mission and vision, and use appropriate icebreakers

to facilitate networking among members who have never met

before.

4


Figure 1: Checklist for Starting a Peer Network

These steps are meant to be followed in the order they are listed to ensure effective results. This list has been designed to include

application of the knowledge gathered from the contributing case studies. They apply generally to young leaders seeking to implement a

career development program at their credit union.

Research what groups and programs already exist to serve credit union professionals like you.

Determine whether any of these programs satisfies your needs without creating your own group.

If you decide that something new is needed, establish the values that you would like this group to have, as well as the general goals

you would like it to accomplish.

Consider a few ways in which these goals can be exhibited through specific actions for group members in order to clarify your vision

for the group (e.g., lunch-and-learns, off-site networking, etc.).

Informally survey a small group of peers to determine whether others are interested in such a group.

Find an experienced mentor who can provide objective feedback about your ideas and help you adapt the concepts presented here

to your credit union’s culture.

In consultation with your mentor, assess how your credit union and its management team will likely respond to your proposal for a

career development program given its leadership style and business constraints.

If advisable, seek sponsorship from the credit union to ensure legitimacy and possibly obtain additional resources.

Find a core group of zealous supporters among your peers to build a leadership team.

With the newly formed leadership team, reassess the goals and values you’ve outlined for the group to ensure that there is

agreement on their importance and adequacy.

Assign responsibilities among leadership team members and define a few important group norms and expectations to ensure the

proper functioning of the group.

Decide among the leadership team a specific series of activities that the group will undertake in order to achieve its goals.

Plan a special kick-off event for the group to build up energy among your target audience (invite a special guest who will draw

participants, and consider providing free food, beverages, and/or prizes).

Begin spreading the word and building momentum for the group and its inaugural event throughout all of the credit union’s popular

communication channels, including staff meetings, e-mail, and areas for public notice.

Each member of the leadership team should extend personal invitations to the people they would like to see join the program in

order to provide additional encouragement to participate.

Build partnerships throughout the credit union and your community with individuals and groups that can influence (positively or

negatively) the success of the group.

As the program matures and you begin to receive feedback from attendees, assess whether more can be done to achieve your

objectives.

Note: Throughout the process you should evaluate the group’s activities to identify what works well and what needs improvement.

Whatever you decide to do, do it sooner rather than later. As was true

with our case studies, there is likely a core group of motivated young

professionals at your credit union just waiting and hoping for an

opportunity to come along. This brief will help you build a foundation

for them.

Credit Union Case Studies

This brief introduces you to the young professional leadership and

career development networks of three separate credit unions: Servus

Credit Union, Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal),

and Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU).

Each of these credit unions is distinct in its structure and mission,

and before diving into the case studies, some background

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information on each of the credit unions is appropriate. (The data

and statistics mentioned here are valid as of December 2011.)

Servus Credit Union is the largest credit union in Canada’s province

of Alberta. With 390,000 members across 62 communities, about

2,300 employees, over 100 locations, and $11 billion (B) CAD in

assets under management, Servus is a giant among credit unions. Servus

is a community- based credit union helping residents of Alberta

since 1938. The credit union defines its two guiding principles as

community building and helping people.

CU SoCal is also a community- based credit union, serving the San

Gabriel Valley and Orange County. CU SoCal began in 1954 as a

credit union serving members of the educational community. However,

the credit union experienced rapid growth during the financial

deregulation that occurred in the 1980s and changed its field of

membership to include all residents of Whittier. The credit union

has since expanded further and now has over 100 employees serving

3 counties, with a total of more than 41,000 members, 8 branches,

and $589 million (M) in assets. CU SoCal is a state- chartered credit

union.

ECCU is also state chartered but differs from the previous two credit

unions in that it is not community based. Instead, ECCU serves

individuals and ministries across the globe that share the common

bond of being evangelical Christians. ECCU was formed in 1984

from the merger of the Conservative Baptist Credit Union (founded

in 1964) and the Association of Christian Schools International

Credit Union (founded in 1966). The resulting $43M credit union

experienced tremendous growth, and only 24 years later reached

$1.2B in assets, with a total of $3B under management. Particularly

unique for a credit union of its asset size, ECCU serves only about

12,000 members from one satellite branch in Colorado Springs,

Colorado, and its headquarters in Brea, California. A great many

of the credit union’s members are ministries and churches, which

contributes to some of its unique characteristics. In addition to these

ministries, ECCU’s 275 employees also serve 3,500 missionaries in

over 100 countries. Of particular importance to this case study is

that ECCU’s headquarters is home to a large majority of its workforce,

and this lack of dispersal among the employee base no doubt

affects participation within its peer network.

Trust and Empowerment: A Youth- Directed Peer

Network with Corporate Sponsorship—Servus Credit

Union

The success of the Servus Young Leaders Network (SYLN) would not

have been possible if it had not been built on the firm foundation

6


of collaboration among young leaders in the worldwide credit union

system.

This collaboration began in July 2009 when I (Devin Selte) was

given the opportunity to take part in the World Council of Credit

Unions (WOCCU) conference in Barcelona, Spain. As part of the

conference, I participated in the WOCCU Young Credit Union

People (WYCUP) program, which provided me with the opportunity

to network with credit union peers from around the world. This

experience broadened my understanding of the worldwide credit

union system and ignited in me a passion for developing young leaders

at my credit union.

During the WYCUP session, I was introduced to Ross Lambrick, a

young credit union leader from Australia. The passion for peer development

that Ross and I shared sparked a great friendship between

us. Prior to traveling to Barcelona, Ross had been identified as an

outstanding young leader by the Australian credit union system for

his creation of an emerging leaders program. During and after the

conference, Ross generously shared information about his program’s

vision and structure, which gave me a solid framework on which to

build a proposal for the SYLN.

Once the proposal for the SYLN was complete, I wanted to solicit

feedback from people I trusted. I was pleased to have the willing participation

of Ross and several other members of the WYCUP group,

as well as a few of my peers at Servus Credit Union, to review the

proposal. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and after only

a few slight tweaks, I forwarded the proposal on to Eric Dillon, chief

operating officer of Servus Credit Union, in August 2009.

Eric was intrigued by the proposal, as he has always had a real passion

for developing the full potential of leaders. In fact, his devotion

to that cause was the reason that the Credit Union Central of

Canada recognized him as the first ever Young Leader award winner.

Eric is the founding member of the National Young Leaders (NYL)

Committee in Canada. NYL’s purpose is to be the advocate of young

leaders, to influence change in the credit union system, and to drive

forward talent management of young leaders in the Canadian credit

union system through awareness campaigns and program support.

Because of Eric’s passion for leadership development, and his belief

in me, he passed on the proposal to our chief people officer, Dan

Bruinooge. Like Eric, Dan welcomed the proposal because he clearly

saw the need for a concerted effort to develop emerging leaders at

Servus Credit Union.

After discussion by the senior management team, it was decided that

Bob Webb, senior manager of leader development at the time, would

7


e made the executive sponsor of the young leaders network. Bob

and I had an inaugural meeting in November of the same year to discuss

our perspectives on the proposed program. We quickly reached

common ground and decided that the best way forward was to seek

out a small group of other young leaders to assist with the development

of the program.

Creating a cohesive team wasn’t easy. Just the previous year, Servus

Credit Union had completed a merger with two other credit unions

(one of the biggest mergers in credit union history), and the new

culture of Servus had yet to be fully defined.

To help you truly appreciate the magnitude of these mergers, here is

an indication of the sizes of the three credit unions that were merged:

• Servus Credit Union: 60 branches, 195,000 members, $4.75B

CAD, 900 employees.

• Community Savings Credit Union: 30 branches, 110,000 members,

$2.5B CAD, 640 employees.

• CommonWealth Credit Union: 15 branches, 52,000 members,

$1.5B CAD, 300 employees.

To ensure that the SYLN

I should have established team norms and meeting protocols adequately appealed to all

early in the process, given the size and group dynamics of the employees, regardless of which

executive committee.

legacy credit union they were

employed by, I invited three

representatives from each of the legacy institutions to participate in

the development of the program. It was essential that all employees

had an advocate on SYLN’s executive committee.

In December we had our first teleconference meeting to set the direction

and vision for the SYLN. This is when I entered into the most

difficult phase of creating the network.

Due to the nature of teleconferences, and the fact that many of the

employees on the executive committee had never even met, these

meetings were challenging because we were unable to reach a consensus

on first steps for the network. For months the group was

hamstrung. We couldn’t decide whether to kick off the network as an

incomplete idea in order to start building momentum, or to take the

extra time to develop a clear vision and structure that would support

the organization as it grew.

Even after the executive committee had its first face-to-face meeting

in March 2010, we were still unable to resolve some of the strong

differences of opinion that existed.

8


In retrospect, some of the delay in getting the group started was my

fault. I should have established team norms and meeting protocols

early in the process, given the size and group dynamics of the executive

committee. Since most group members were meeting for the

first time, I should have arranged for a team- building event to break

down the barriers. This is especially true given the cultural baggage

that remained from the recent mergers. It wasn’t until August 2010

(nine months after our launch) that I scheduled the first teambuilding

exercise. Though it was late, it went a long way toward

bringing the group together.

Eventually, the executive committee began to come together as an

effective unit. Though not always able to reach a consensus, the

group has learned to respectfully disagree and move on without jeopardizing

relationships.

As fate would have it, Bob Webb left Servus Credit Union in April

2010. With the departure of the executive sponsor of the SYLN, the

executive committee was naturally unsure of how to proceed in his

absence. Rather than sit idle, the committee determined that the best

course of action would be to focus inward and develop a mission,

vision, constitution, and organizational structure for the SYLN while

we waited to see how Bob’s departure affected our operations.

Prior to leaving, Bob had provided the SYLN with its most important

feature: autonomy. Bob believed that to be successful in developing

young leaders, the group would have to be an opportunity

for development in and of itself; thus, he took a very hands-off

approach. By being employee led, the SYLN provides participants

with the opportunity to be creative and free from unnecessary constraint.

However, Bob also knew that an important part of leadership

is accountability, and accountability for our actions and decisions is

highly stressed among the group and by our executive sponsor.

After Bob’s departure, the role of executive sponsor shifted to Dan

Bruinooge, who has continued Bob’s tradition of entrusting the

SYLN to its executive committee of young leaders.

After Dan had transitioned into his role as executive sponsor, we

arranged a meeting with the Executive Leaders Team of Servus

Credit Union in August 2010 to showcase our work. After presenting

our vision for the SYLN, we presented an action plan and budget

request for $30,000 CAD (half to be used for travel and meetings,

and the other half to be used on projects).

To our surprise, the Executive Leaders Team not only approved the

budget request but increased the budget to $50,000 CAD and asked

us to make a few minor improvements to the program.

9


Through our journey, the SYLN has developed the following

initiatives:

• Vision and mission statements.

• Constitution (including organizational structure).

• Chair/Vice-Chair/Executive Committee member duties and

responsibilities.

• Decision-making process for network leadership.

• Succession plan for the Executive Committee, which includes

three-year terms, as well as an application and voting process to

elect new members.

• National Scholarship Program (which includes mentorship).

• Social networking site opened to all Servus Credit Union staff.

• Monthly Servus Young Leader Spotlight section on social networking

home page.

• Annual opportunities for Executive Committee influence at the

national conference of Credit Union Central of Canada (Servus

Credit Union provides complete scholarships for Executive Committee

members in the second year of their term).

• Budgetary responsibilities.

• 35 Under 35 Leadership Retreat.

• Grassroots SYLN meet-ups in localized areas and at individual

branches have begun to spring up, offering mentorship opportunities

for current Servus leaders to share their experiences with

SYLN members.

• Local groups have begun holding regular lunch-and-learn sessions

to share knowledge, and have participated in community- based

volunteer work to build relationships.

The success of the SYLN has been attributed to the following:

• My initial passion and advocacy for the creation of the network.

• A group of young leaders within the credit union who were able

to put previous cultural differences aside and build an industryleading

young leaders development program.

• A champion for young leadership development stepped up at the

senior leadership level.

• Buy-in at the executive leadership team level.

• Recognition that engaging with, and building up, future leaders

in the organization was critical to ensuring the success of the

credit union.

• Autonomy was provided to encourage fearlessness in creativity,

while accountability was retained for the decisions being made.

10


Areas of improvement over the SYLN model include:

• Build a vision early on to serve as a guide for leadership.

• Establish meeting and team norms at the very first gathering.

• Organize a team- building event as a way to build relationships if

teammates are unfamiliar with one another.

Benevolent Oversight: A Corporate Leadership Training

Program—CU SoCal

Ever on the hunt for improvement, the leadership team at CU SoCal

uses a semiannual internal service survey to evaluate areas of change

that management needs to address. Several employees used these

surveys, as well as staff meetings and the annual meeting, to request

a leadership training program that would prepare staff at the credit

union for future management positions.

The Service and Development department grabbed on to these

comments and decided to implement a program in order to improve

retention and employee satisfaction

and reduce the need for

Possibly the most important part of the training program is outside hiring to fill management

positions. In 2008, Ismael

that it is self-directed.

Munoz, vice president of Service

and Development, set out to

create a training program that would adequately prepare employees

for a future in management.

It was not a small task. In the end, the training program was a dense

14-page document packed with instructional requirements, lesson

guides, and an accountability form. However, as you will see, the

program is a robust survey of management and leadership principles,

credit union operations, and practical training for the employees who

enter the program.

But possibly the most important part of the training program is that

it is self- directed. A candidate who decides to participate in the program

must submit a one-page proposal to his or her direct manager,

the senior vice president of his or her business unit, and the vice

president of Service and Development. The candidate’s memo must

include a summary of the reasons for his or her interest in participating

in the leadership training program, including the benefits

to the employee, his or her work teams, the credit union, and the

community.

This is significant because an important part of meaningful leadership

training is self- selection among candidates. The best candidates

for leadership are individuals who are proactive, self- directed, and

willing to invest serious time in their development for a leadership

11


ole. Individuals who fall into positions unexpectedly are often

unprepared for the responsibility or, worse, fail to take the responsibility

seriously. Removing the proactive and self- directed component

from a leadership training program is a recipe for disaster.

While the program has experienced minor changes since it first

began, Ismael’s original educational plan remains largely intact. The

program is designed to be completed over a two-year period, with

quarterly accountability for goals. Specific components of the program

are outlined below.

Management and Leadership Training

• Over the course of the program, attend six leadership workshops

and follow each one up with an action plan for using the information

received to improve your department:

■■

■■

■■

■■

■■

■■

Coaching and Mentoring

Counseling and Documenting

Employee Development and Performance Evaluations

Progressive Discipline, Separations, and Leaves of Absence

(LOAs)

The 5 Questions Every Leader Must Ask

Time Management

• Complete four hours of online training each quarter in any one of

the following areas:

■■

■■

■■

■■

■■

Computer training

Business skills

Communication

Leadership and management

Strategic planning

• Read one management book each quarter and complete a onepage

summary on the key principles of the book and how you

will apply them to your department.

Credit Union Operations

• Meet for at least one hour with each of the managers of CU

SoCal’s 12 major units, plus one branch manager of your choice.

Discuss what each of the departments does in order to gain a

high-level understanding of the full range of operations at the

credit union.

• Working with your manager and the vice president of Service and

Development, select one of the credit union’s governance committees

(Service, Compliance, etc.) to participate on.

12


Industry and General Business Exposure

• Attend one credit union system meeting each quarter and collect

at least three business cards to demonstrate your effort to network

with others (appropriate meetings include California Credit

Union League chapters, chamber of commerce, etc.).

• Attend one outside workshop for professional development and

complete a one-page summary of the key principles and how they

changed your perspective on leadership.

Learning Self-direction

• Work with your manager to define the specific goals of your individual

leadership training program, set reasonable objectives, and

hold yourself accountable to those objectives.

• Set meetings with your manager, the senior vice president of your

business unit, the vice president of Service and Development,

and the various department heads to ensure timely completion of

goals.

• With consultation from your manager, choose training courses,

leadership books, and external meetings/workshops to attend.

• As a final task, give a 15-minute presentation at an allmanagement

staff meeting regarding what you learned from the

program and how you plan to integrate it into your career.

Though the program’s education plan hasn’t changed much, one

major change occurred in 2010. When the program was originally

created, the credit union’s leadership team thought that it would be

best utilized by staff in lower- level supervisor positions as they sought

to improve themselves for transition to middle and upper management.

But in the first year that the program was in operation only

one qualified supervisor volunteered for it. This was not quite the

participation rate that management had expected, especially since

staff had requested the program.

After receiving suggestions from staff and hearing that people from

many different positions wanted to be in the program, management

agreed to give anyone the opportunity to participate. Once the

program was opened up to all interested staff, participation increased

greatly. Where before the program had only one participant, as of

January 2012 there were six program participants.

I (Aaron Burnham) was among the first to request to be in the

program. The program has been very successful at preparing me for

future leadership. However, I must admit that it is not for the faint

of heart. CU SoCal’s leadership training program requires considerable

dedication, as each quarter is packed tight with meetings, educational

learning, and leadership books. The volume of work that is

13


equired in addition to regular duties, and the fact that the candidate

is required to manage these time commitments without missing program

objectives, means that the process inherently drives out those

who aren’t up for the challenge of leading the credit union.

A Grassroots Movement: Peer Networking without

Corporate Sponsorship—ECCU

I (Matt Weidler) have always had a passion for leadership. In the

course of nurturing that passion, I have learned over time that we

often need to let go of our preconceived notions about the importance

of positions and authority in leadership and instead focus on

developing leadership opportunities wherever we find ourselves.

In 2006, I recognized that there were a substantial number of young

employees at ECCU who considered themselves “next in line” for

supervisory roles. These were solid performers who were well trained

in their fields and could be considered subject matter experts.

However, while ECCU made a considerable investment in training

and conferences related to their professions, time management, and

project management, there was little or no training available that

would meaningfully prepare them to be future managers of people.

Therefore, I decided that the first step I could take was to form a

core group of individuals whom I had identified as up-and- comers

and begin networking with them to prepare for the future.

This peer networking took the form of regular lunches with two

other guys at a nearby pizza parlor. At some point in 2007, during

one of these lunches, I had my first real flash of inspiration for a

broader young professionals network (what would later become the

Career Development Network [CDN]). I ran it by the guys, and

they thought it was a great idea. So in my spare time I began to think

about what this group could look like.

Unfortunately, instead of investing time and energy into developing

this idea, I got sidetracked by a rather unsuccessful personal project.

In the meantime, one of my two lunch associates left the credit

union, and our peer networking group fell apart. I no longer had a

foundation on which to build a larger group.

For four long years the idea festered in the back of my mind, rarely

thought of. Then in 2011, something phenomenal happened: I won

CO-OP Financial Services’ $10,000 THiNK Prize.

Attending the THiNK Conference and winning the THiNK Prize

were catalysts for the CDN in two very important ways. First, winning

the prize provided me with a much-needed confidence boost.

Receiving industry recognition for an innovative idea reaffirmed my

14


sense of worth, and it renewed a sense of risk- taking and initiative

in me.

Second, attending the THiNK Conference brought me into an

unexpected meet-up with the Crash Network (now the Cooperative

Trust). Prior to THiNK, I had attended industry conferences as part

of my role as political liaison, but I was not familiar with this group

of young credit union professionals. At THiNK, I met people like

Brent Dixon, Ronaldo Hardy, Sasha Kemble, Jill Nowacki, and other

rising stars in the industry. This was important because I had previously

felt like an outsider at these conferences and was starting to

think that maybe there were no other passionate young professionals

in the credit union system. The Crash Network proved those feelings

wrong and convinced me that I could not be alone in wanting a

young professionals network at ECCU.

When I returned from the conference I was determined to start

this group. Since I had no idea where to start, I did what any selfrespecting

member of Generation Y would do and Googled “starting

a young professionals network.” Naturally, Google had the answer

that I needed, in the form of an article by an accomplished young

woman named Angela Marino, author of the Girl Meets Business

blog. 3 Angela recommends the following seven steps to starting a

young professionals network:

1. Assess what’s out there.

2. Establish a goal.

3. Get a few people on board.

4. Get a sponsor.

5. Spread the word.

6. Build partnerships.

7. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.

The steps are designed to be completed in the order listed, with

step 7 being an ongoing process.

The CDN owes much of its

It turns out that to start a leadership network, you need to exercise

a bit of leadership by being the first to step out on the limb beginning stages of a peer net-

success to this advice. The

and show people where you want to take them.

work are the most vulnerable, as

participants are unsure of their

commitment and leaders are uncertain of their potential success.

Having a solid plan that follows logical steps is a great way to reduce

the uncertainty.

Following Angela’s advice, I began by assessing the environment

so that as I developed my goals I could determine whether there

was overlap with existing groups. I focused primarily on ECCU’s

15


employee- sponsored groups, training courses for frontline staff, and

the credit union system in general (such as the Crash Network and

trade associations). I did not evaluate community- based programs in

my city or county, because I did not believe they could cater to my

target audience (employees of ECCU who were passionate about the

credit union system). I knew that my mission was to prepare ECCU’s

frontline staff for the jump to management, but I didn’t find anything

serving that purpose specifically. So, I resolved to go ahead and

create the “Young Professionals Network” (its infant name).

Generally, I am a consensus leader. My preference is always to get

a team together in a room and lead them toward making decisions

as a group. So it felt out of place for me to follow Angela’s second

step and create goals for the organization without consulting others.

However, in retrospect, I believe this advice was key to the group’s

success. In honesty, I had already envisioned what the group would

exist to do, so involving more people in hammering out goals would

have created needless conflict. Also, I found that it was much simpler

to recruit others when they had a firm vision of what the group was

trying to accomplish.

It turns out that to start a leadership network, you need to exercise a

bit of leadership by being the first to step out on the limb and show

people where you want to take them. For the CDN at ECCU, I

chose six goals. These goals are separated into two distinct categories:

three are specific to the work of the CDN, and three are reiterations

of one of ECCU’s six core value statements, highlighting how the

CDN’s work reinforces corporate principles.

Organizational Goals

1. Provide valuable career development opportunities.

2. Encourage peer networking.

3. Promote ground-up enterprise communication.

Core Values Focus

4. Build God- honoring relationships.

5. Reinforce passion for our work.

6. Foster creativity at all levels.

I chose these goals because my passion is to develop myself and others

for leadership. I want the next generation of ECCU’s leaders to

begin coming together now so that our relationships are strong when

the time comes for us to lead ECCU, and I want to improve the

feedback of valuable business information from frontline employees

to the company’s decision makers.

16


The truth is that when you set a vision, not everyone will want

to follow it, and that’s all right. You only really want people

who believe in your vision following you anyway.

After determining the network’s goals, I decided that the best agenda

I could set for the group would be a monthly lunch that would alternate

between on-site mentorship sessions and off-site networking

sessions. The idea was to have an executive staff member or successful

member of our business community come on-site to discuss with

us how he or she achieved success and to share advice.

Once the goals and agenda were in place, it was time to move on to

step 3: getting a few people on board. Rather than trying to pitch

this idea by myself to every young face I saw, I decided that a better

approach would be for me to look for three other motivated people

and bring them on board as boosters. I focused on giving these three

folks a strong sell for how this group could help them and the credit

union, in hopes that they would get excited about a young professionals

network. (I also made it a point to target at least one female

coworker for this group to ensure that we didn’t create a boys club,

but instead genuinely appealed to all employees.)

My hope for these boosters was that each of them would recruit at

least three other people they knew to attend the first meeting. This

added a personal touch to the invitation because it came from someone

they knew, and it broadened

my reach by increasing my

voice from one person to four

people.

At this point, I ran into my

first setback. Despite all of my

careful planning and meticulous selection of booster candidates, two

of the three individuals I had targeted rejected my invitation. One

individual was very excited about the idea, but she was pregnant and

uncomfortable making a commitment so close to an extended leave

of absence. She was, however, kind enough to make a suggestion

about whom I should ask instead. Her recommendation proved to

be extremely valuable, as Elizabeth is extremely energetic, passionate

about her peers’ career development, and unbelievably detailed.

This was a great example of the old proverb, “When one door closes,

another opens.”

The second rejection was harder to take. This individual, after giving

it some thought, told me that he just wasn’t interested in a group like

this. In my zeal for creating the network, I had misjudged a coworker’s

motivations; to say that it was a real embarrassment would be to

underplay the emotions I felt. If I hadn’t built up as much momentum

as I had by already having one person agree to be a booster, it

would have been tempting to quit right then and there (and go hide

under a rock)!

17


But this was a very important lesson for me personally. The truth is

that when you set a vision, not everyone will want to follow it, and

that’s all right. You only really want people who believe in your vision

following you anyway. Given the amount of pressure I was putting

on this individual, I actually applaud him for saying no. He knew

what he wanted, and he communicated it even though it wasn’t what

I wanted to hear.

Thankfully, the next two individuals I asked were more excited than

I could have imagined. I was expecting tentative agreement at best,

but instead Jeremy and David responded that they thought this

was exactly the kind of thing ECCU was missing (Jeremy was the

remaining lunch associate from my original lunches four years prior).

I was pleased to learn just a few months later that their involvement

with the CDN had revitalized their passion and commitment to the

organization.

After getting the key boosters on board, I moved on to step 4,

finding a sponsor. Because of the busyness at my credit union, the

recently short-staffed status of our HR department, and the desire

for the group to be self- directed and autonomous, I decided that

our young professionals network would not have one chief corporate

sponsor. Instead, we would ask for small forms of sponsorship

from speakers who came to share with us. Some were kind enough

to provide a free lunch, others offered free books to which they had

contributed, but all were gracious enough to share their time and

personal experiences.

After deciding what sponsorship should look like, we began planning

the first meeting so that we could begin spreading the word (step 5).

We wanted the first meeting to make a big impression on our young

professionals segment, so we asked a young and recently promoted

vice president to be our inaugural speaker for the group. Our vice

president of Strategic Services gladly accepted, becoming the first of

what would be many executive and senior management staff members

to joyfully participate in these lunches. In fact, many of our

speakers have thanked the CDN leadership team for giving them a

venue in which to share their stories.

Once we had a confirmed speaker, I asked my boosters to start

spreading the word about the lunch meeting, and I drafted an

announcement to be posted in common areas and on ECCU’s internal

electronic message board.

However, I started to get cold feet. I didn’t want to upset anyone in

the business with our announcement, since individual career development

blends the lines between work and personal life. So, despite

our focus on developing individuals and not the company, I decided

that it would be prudent to pass the communication piece by our

18


vice president of HR for her consideration. We wanted the group

to be organized as an optional employee group so that the time was

not considered on-the-clock. She requested a meeting to discuss our

intentions and her concerns.

This was when the three boosters I sought out really stepped up and

showed that they were interested in being true leaders for the group.

I had copied them on the e‐mail to HR, and they insisted on being

at the meeting with our vice president to help in any way that they

could. At this point, I realized that I wasn’t in this alone anymore,

that I could release some of the burden. Further, it reaffirmed that

this was an important cause, since other people were willing to fight

for it.

The vice president of HR was very supportive. Right off the bat, she

said that she loved what we were doing and that it was unfortunate

ECCU hadn’t been able to offer anything like this before. However,

she also wanted to confirm that we recognized the gray area this

crossed into. Most importantly, although this was technically an

optional employee- organized group, and not company sponsored, we

still had to be careful not to discuss ECCU business to ensure that

staff didn’t need to be compensated for their time at these lunches.

We were to discuss only general career development concepts, not

work.

She also told us that she had shared our communication with the

newly formed employee engagement committee, a group of about a

dozen employees from all levels and departments of the organization

who provide feedback on enterprise

goals and initiatives. They

The first meeting was a huge success. We had well over a dozen

provided two valuable pieces of

employees show up to that first meeting, and the guest speaker

feedback: First, their response

connected really well with the audience. It was a great start for

to the network was very positive

(more than one person said

the network.

they’d be interested in joining

such a group); second, they thought we should consider a name that

didn’t exclude people based on age, as some people become interested

in career development and advancement later in life. This has proved

to be quite true, as we have had several attendees who were older

than we expected. This second piece of advice is what spawned our

prelaunch name change from the Young Professionals Network to

the Career Development Network, as it is known today.

It was now time to send out our announcements and hold the first

lunch.

At this point, being the consensus leader type, I wanted to solidify

the boosters as part of a leadership team and not just as boosters for

the meetings. So I began using the title “CDN Leadership Team” in

19


our discussions about the lunch and reinforced that I was interested

in their feedback. I also made a point of telling the other members of

the team that this wasn’t my group—it was our group. And I made it

clear that my opinion wasn’t the last word; we would all decide how

the group should be run.

Prior to the lunch, we agreed to have someone to take notes, someone

to introduce our guest speaker, and another person to open the

session with prayer and an invocation. We also agreed that as part of

our career development objective, every month we would provide the

group with information about one free resource they could obtain

that related to credit unions, financial services, leadership, or the

evangelical Christian community (something specific for our credit

union). The lunch meetings begin with 15 minutes of unguided peer

networking where people are free to talk and eat their lunch; 5 minutes

of introduction, invocation, and the presentation of the free

resource; and then 40 minutes for our guest speaker’s presentation.

The first meeting was a huge success. We had well over a dozen

employees show up to that first meeting, and the guest speaker

connected really well with the audience. It was a great start for the

network.

Between the first and second meetings, the group decided to make

two important changes. One was the addition of a monthly newsletter

that captured the previous speaker’s notes, a bio on one of

the group members, and some information about the group and

our next meeting. The second was to have only on-site mentorship

lunches, because the group was too unfamiliar to have meaningful

off-site networking lunches. After eight months of meeting together,

we were finally able to begin holding off-site networking lunches

once a quarter, and they have been well received as opportunities to

find out more about one another.

After six months of successful meetings, the group had moved

beyond its infant stages and was now mature enough to begin building

partnerships (step 6). At this point, I applied for the Crash Network’s

CANVAS scholarship to “crash” the California and Nevada

Credit Union League’s annual convention in San Diego, California.

The hope was to increase my network of young professionals within

the Western Hemisphere and begin spreading the CDN program

across the nation. My desire was, and still is, to use career development

networks within individual credit unions to develop people

professionally where they find themselves; to use leagues, and local

chapters of the leagues; to network with industry- focused individuals

on a broader basis so they can achieve bigger goals; and to use

national conferences and trade association events as educational

forums for up-and- coming credit union leaders.

20


This is why I created this brief with the help of my fellow “crashers”—to

provide you with the knowledge you need in order to do

what I’ve done. I certainly hope you will join me in these efforts!

Conclusion

Each of the three career development programs mentioned in these

case studies continues to operate successfully. For our purposes, success

is defined as receiving continuous, active, and voluntary participation,

as well as having a majority of group members deem the

programs as impactful for their career development.

Furthermore, these case studies highlight the fact that the career

development of young professionals is a topic of great importance

to many in the credit union system. Still, some credit union managers

remain convinced that time and money should not be wasted

on developing young professionals, preferring instead to allow the

next generation to be wholly responsible for their own development.

Thankfully, this group is dwindling, but the claims are still worth

addressing.

First, it is incorrect to assume that time and money are wasted

on these activities. Such an assumption flies in the face of welldocumented

research, the likes of which have appeared repeatedly

in reputable sources like the Harvard Business Review (including the

research of Daniel Goleman and the Hay/McBer consulting firm).

Young professional development is closely related to the coaching

style of leadership, which emphasizes intentional long-term development

of employees over short-term benefits to the organization

(such as productivity or cost savings). In the previously cited research

gathered from thousands of business executives, “coaching” activities

were unquestionably associated with improved employee performance,

higher standards of excellence, better perception of the

fairness of corporate rewards systems, improved clarity about mission

and values, and greater commitment to the organization.

The second error is in assuming that young professionals should be

wholly responsible for their own development. The dangerous part of

this assumption is the grain of truth on which it is built. It is absolutely

true that young professionals have responsibility for their own

development. The problem is that they often have no idea where to

begin, and so a lot of time and talent is wasted trying to figure out

on their own what previous generations have already learned. The

danger in assuming members of the next generation are responsible

for themselves is in using that as an excuse not to meaningfully participate

in their development.

21


The current generation of leaders clearly has an interest in developing

the careers of high- potential employees to ensure ready access to

talent, greater employee satisfaction, and improved commitment to

the organization and its goals, as well as an interest in satisfying their

own personal needs to have their work experience valued through

a mentoring relationship. Failure to recognize these benefits will be

costly to everyone.

22


Endnotes

1. Daniel Goleman, “Leadership That Gets Results,” Harvard

Business Review, accessed March 2012, http://academy.

clevelandclinic.org/Portals/40/HBRLeadershipGetsResults.pdf.

2. Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton, The Managerial Grid (Houston,

TX: Gulf Publishing, 1994).

3. Angela Marino, “How to Start a Young- Professionals Networking

Group,” Girl Meets Business blog, accessed April 2011,

www.officearrow.com/girl-meets-business/how-to-start-a-youngprofessionals-networking-group-oaiur-3084/view.html.

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ideas grow here

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608.661.3740

www.filene.org PUBLICATION #280 (11/12)

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