Whether you’re an aspiring leader or a C-suite veteran, your ability to set goals plays a major role in your credit union’s success. At first glance, that statement seems laughably obvious. However, in the ongoing effort to effectively motivate and inspire those under your leadership, it’s easy to let personal goals slide down the priority list, often overlooking them completely.

“You cannot teach what you don’t know, and you cannot lead where you won’t go.” This quote from Jesse Jackson highlights the need for leaders to set the pace when it comes to personal and professional growth. While it’s essential to call your team to go further than before, challenging yourself to do the same is an effective way to stay sharp and avoid complacency. And when your team sees their leader actively chasing better things, they gain the confidence required to follow in that pursuit.

4 Leadership Goals to Jumpstart the New Year

  • Embrace the younger generation.
    When it comes to millennials, a quick Google search will uncover countless blogs and articles lamenting a lost generation. Don’t fall into this deceptive groupthink. Painting an entire generation with a broad brush may be a great way to appeal to web-based echo chambers, but it’s a terrible way to inspire those who represent the future of your credit union. As you look for ways to capitalize on their strengths, be willing to help them improve underdeveloped areas as well. A consistent blend of encouragement and instruction will be invaluable as invest in the development of young professionals.
  • Don’t just employ. Empower.
    While a hands-off approach may seem counterintuitive when it comes to exerting your influence, freedom may be one of the most valuable tools you can give your team. When you hire excellent people and communicate your vision effectively, giving them the creative freedom to get the job done demonstrates trust in their ability. Micromanaging may seem like a good way keep your finger on the pulse of your financial institution, but it’s a surefire way to assemble a crew of workers who learn to do only what is asked of them.
  • Make meetings matter.
    Mention the words “staff meeting” in any corporate setting, you’ll probably be met with a variety of eye-rolls, quiet groans, and exasperated sighs. Rather than approaching meetings as a necessary evil, leverage the time with a simple, yet powerful shift in purpose. In a recent Fast Company article, Daniel Zhang, CEO of global trade giant Alibaba, recommends exchanging departmental updates ahead of time and utilizing the meeting to identify areas for improvement. “On a day-to-day basis, meetings aren’t the place for getting everyone up to speed. They’re for finding your weak points and debating how to fix them.”
  • Find a mentor.
    When your employees and managers are constantly looking up to you for guidance and direction, it’s natural to feel like you need to be the one with all the answers. And while much has been written about the need to identify and mentor up-and-coming leaders, finding a mentor of your own is crucial to your long-term success. You may possess innovative ideas and an impressive work ethic, but while those qualities are admirable, they’re no substitute for experience. A seasoned mentor can draw from a deeper well of experience and offer an objective perspective, or as Startup Professionals founder, Martin Zwilling states, “A good mentor knows what to look for, and sees what your customers see. It’s natural to become so immersed in your business that you forget to step back and look in from the outside.”

As you look for ways to improve your leadership in the new year, remember that establishing personal goals is just as important as setting them for your team members. When you create a culture where everyone from the CEO to the newest hire is willing to challenge themselves to be better, you’ll build a credit union that benefits its members, employees, and surrounding community.

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