Three tips on how to lead in a time of change

By Ian Burns, President and CEO

The credit union system – and the financial services industry – is undergoing huge changes right now. From new technologies to automation to increased competition, leaders need to adapt their style to help employees successfully navigate change.

In recent weeks, I have spoken to many employees and peers who are looking for advice to help deal with this issue. And while developing personal resiliency is important, I think there are specific things managers and executives can do to lead differently when things are transforming:

Be transparent.
Employees have access to more information than ever before and sometimes that results in more gossip and swirl.

Transparent and authentic communication means answering questions before they’re asked. At Alberta Central, one way we do this is by encouraging dialogue at quarterly all-staff meetings, where employees can ask questions both in-person and anonymously online. I also draft blogs – like this one – for internal and external audiences to provide updates on what I’m working on and ongoing projects that add value to the credit union system.

Actively listen.
Active listening is not just repeating back what you heard to confirm understanding. It's about working to fully comprehend what's said and responding appropriately. Providing feedback is a big part and saying things like, “I heard you and this is what I am going to do”, goes a long way in showing employees that their input is not falling on deaf ears. I know in my own personal and professional development plans I am focusing on improving my listening.

Take risks – and give permission to fail.
The value of taking risks to foster innovation has been written about before. Examples like the birth of the post-it note, which came from a failed attempt to develop better adhesive at 3M, demonstrates that great ideas can come from risks – and sometimes from failure.

Employees need to feel safe taking risks. One of my own personal mottos is to fail forward and I always encourage my team to not accept “that’s how it’s always been done” as an answer.

As an Alberta Top 70 Employer, Alberta Central is committed to being a great place to work. And that starts with a leadership team focused on developing talent, helping employees navigate change and ensuring credit unions achieve success.