Ah, Youth

Over at Ron Shevlin’s blog, Snarketing Two Dot Oh, he poses this question: Who are the future leaders of the credit union movement? I’ll not rehash the entirety of that discussion here. Feel free to hop over to Ron’s site to check it out. (As a side note, I’m pretty sure that if you start reading his blog, you’ll not stop. It’s great stuff.)

We, as young-ish leaders, are in a dangerous spot. It’s easy for us to equate a title for leadership and success. It’s easy for us to call our arrogance boldness instead. It’s easy for us to rationalize our own faults and deficiencies while magnifying those things in others. And it’s easy for us to criticize “older” leaders who don’t do things exactly like we think they should, or as quickly as we think that they should, or with as much gusto as we think they should.

When we do that, we’re just wrong.

But here’s part of a comment I left below Ron’s post referenced above:

Yes. To all of what Ron just said.

I’m a VP at my credit union, but titles don’t make us leaders any more than standing in a garage makes us cars. There’s a certain amount of “authority” that comes with a title, to be sure. But even then, authority doesn’t equal leadership.

There’s this fine line that we have to walk, as young-ish (I’m over 30–do I not qualify anymore?:)) leaders. There’s a certain amount of creativity, bravado, and boldness that we have, and that’s fine. But it’s also very easy for folks like us to cross that magical line into arrogance. We go from bold, courageous, knowledgeable, and caring, to young, arrogant, know-it-alls that flame out in a few years and/or leave the industry altogether.

What we need is young leaders who take a long view of this thing of ours. We need young leaders who are humble enough to admit we don’t know everything, we don’t have all the answers, and we do need tons of help and mentoring from those who have gone way before us and brought the CU world to where it is today. And they didn’t need our help to do it, by the way. Some of us were still in diapers while they were fighting their own set of battles on behalf of credit unions.

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