Often when writing or exploring solutions, I start with the dictionary to figure out the meaning of what I’m trying to understand.
The meaning of emerging is: “becoming apparent or prominent”.
When Emerging Leaders Connection (ELC) was kicked off 4 years ago at the Botanical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, I didn’t know what to expect. ELC was a dream a few of us talked about and many supported, but a whole lot of folks thought it was just a “fun, cute idea”.
That last comment really motivated me. I felt like those people weren’t taking developing the next generation of credit union executives seriously. And if I’m being honest, I felt like they weren't taking me seriously. And that my friends, was my gift from the universe. It propelled me to get to the heart of what is keeping folks from being successful in their roles, asking CEOs what is needed from leaders, clarifying participants' next steps and helping them get connected to resources that they could leverage and find opportunity. It was my mission to make ELC successful.
Today, ELC is the fastest growing segment of our membership outreach; directly engaging well over 1,000 leaders. I’m super proud of those who have found opportunity, connection and inspiration through ELC. I’m proud of everyone at ICUL and those who have partnered with us to make the program successful. It has taken one massive village. I'm proud to have Jodi Allen join our team. She is leading ELC with a level of thoughtfulness and intention that is unmatched and she will take ELC to the next level.
Here's a question for you: Who isn’t taking you seriously today? Your boss, your partner, your friends? More importantly, are you taking yourself seriously? Are you honoring your commitments? Are you feeding stress and drama versus stifling it? Are you posting (or liking) things on social media that don’t align with who you're trying to be? Have you identified the qualities of the most successful version of you?
I remember my first Iowa Credit Union Convention CRASH experience. Joe Hearn, CEO of Dupaco, was talking to the Crashers and someone asked a question about getting promoted. I think the question behind the question was why they weren’t getting promoted. With a tone of confidence, Joe sat down his bottle of Bud Light (hey, it was after 4 p.m. and we were in Dubuque) and said something I’ll never forget. “What are you doing right now to make your boss’s job easier”. Then he kind of chuckled to himself and took a drink as if he knew there would be a pause as most of us in the room were racking our brains trying to find an answer.
If you asked me today, I’d have an answer - thanks for that, Joe.
When we first started talking about an ELC program one of the big worries was that we'd start putting these high achieving leaders in the same room, they'd learn even more, become more valuable and then someone else would snatch them up?!? My response to that has stayed the same over time - I'd ask, "what if no one ever changes, what if they stay unmotivated and they never leave?!" To be honest, I saw something like that on LinkedIn and I stole the notion.
That is the value of ELC. ELC is a community where things are talked about that you might not be able to talk about anywhere else. It is a place where big dreams have been born and some bad habits have died. I’ve had the honor of talking with countless folks who share their promotions, accomplishments, and yes, disappointments and hard life stuff too.
There are not many things fun about becoming apparent or prominent. It requires growth and exploring situations that may reveal some ugly truths. It’s usually vulnerable, you have to tell someone that you are looking for more. But once you start doing it, the journey toward a strength filled, authentic, hardworking self is worth it. I hope you have someone, or a group of someones, in your corner who push you to seek opportunity. It doesn’t have to be ELC, I just hope you have someone pushing you forward.
I hope to see you at an ELC or ICUL event soon. You can count on me for a hug, encouraging word and I’ll probably be wearing my big sister bossy pants if you’re needing a nudge too. 😊