Where we are going we don’t need, roads

“Roads?  Where we are going we don’t need, roads.” Emmet Brown, Back to the Future 2

As we approach the date in which Marty McFly traveled forward in time from 1985 (October 21st 2015), I’m reminded of how difficult it is to see the landscape of the future. Some predictions prove correct; others appear to be distant dreams, but the future endlessly inspires and fascinates. As a kid, I genuinely wanted to be Marty McFly and the theme of the movie always stuck with me. Let the future inspire your, let the past be your compass.

“Leading from any chair” is part of the cultural fabric at Conexus Credit Union. It's a statement that I am inspired by daily and provide a perfect example of. I have yet to hold a formal leadership role however, I am an impactful leader. I've had multiple opportunities to move the clock forward in my development within this philosophy. Sharing experiences and motivating others to reach greater heights is imperative.  Simon Sinek said “A star wants to see himself rise to the top.  A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top.” It's a foundational philosophy for me and our Conexus Emerging Leaders.

Conexus Credit Union has a vision of delivering a world-class member experience and in order to do this, we require world-class leaders. Here in lies the opportunity for Conexus Emerging Leaders, developing our 300+ employees under age of 35. This demographic makes up nearly one third of our company and only seven percent of them currently hold formal leadership roles. Comparatively, individuals aged 50 and over encompass twenty-eight percent of Conexus. This illustrates that leadership development is a critical initiative to continue growing our credit union. Conexus Emerging Leaders’ mission is to cultivate growth in these informal leaders and prepare them to assume leadership of our credit union in the years to come. 

How did we arrive here today? In September 2014, I approached four other highly engaged leaders to create the building blocks of Conexus Emerging Leaders. Our aim; harness the potential in our under 35 demographic and channel it into developing them. The subsequent eight months consisted of planning sessions, meetings with senior leaders and presentations to executive. This culminated in unanimous approval on May 1st 2015.

In July 2015 we launched with a shared leadership structure and four key pillars: Collaboration, Community, Mentorship and Innovation. These pillars are aligned with Conexus’ corporate strategy as well as the seven cooperative principles. We believe engagement, retention and attraction are a by-product of our initiatives, not the catalysts.

Leading from any chair” is represented in our five member committee, fifteen member champions and members at large. The five founding members comprise the committee in which shared leadership is deployed. Upon launch, we sought applications for the fifteen Champions roles and we had an overwhelming twenty eight applicants! Conexus Emerging Leaders is fifty leaders strong and growing.  We have a goal to reach seventy five members by year-end and to foster more advocates of both Conexus Emerging Leaders and Conexus.      

In September, we will deliver an orientation to our Champions.  Financial wellness, self-awareness and mentorship will be the focus.  Leveraging their experience in their workplace and communities determines our success. World-class leaders establish other leaders and we will exemplify this.

Community investment is not only a central focus for Conexus but a primary cooperative principle. Conexus Emerging Leaders has committed a percentage of its budget to this initiative just as our credit union does.  It will enable us to make a meaningful difference in member’s lives and enrich our community impact efforts province wide.

Central to our continued success is collaboration. We have strong ties to our proven provincial and national young leader programs, as well as individual credit unions. We are creating innovative ways to collaboratively develop our leaders and move the system forward. This will result in greater impact to our young leaders, fast-forwarding their development and all at a lower overall cost. This provides a greater return on investment for the credit unions as we create more innovative, world-class leaders for our system. 

While an emerging leader program isn't new, we believe our approach is different. We will have a tremendous impact on our business, communities and members. If we do not constantly reach for goals we perceive out of reach, we leave no room to rise to the occasion. At Conexus Emerging Leaders and Conexus Credit Union, we aim high and rise higher.

Kris Wanner