Dakota Credit Union Association is thrilled to announce that two Dakota credit union professionals have recently completed the iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program. This is the second group to finish this training; the first group of four finished this past July.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Kochmann (shown right), Compliance Officer, and Kelsey Keeley (shown left), Member Services Supervisor, both from United Savings Credit Union, Fargo, ND.
We wanted to acquire some feedback about the program from these diligent individuals, particularly why they started the program, how difficult it was to complete the coursework, and what benefits they gained from this continuing education – both professionally, and personally.
Elizabeth shared that while succession planning is an important task for credit unions of all sizes, for smaller credit unions, it is often put on the backburner, and this was one way to help her credit union prepare for the future. “I wanted to attend so that I could help strengthen our team and could become more knowledgeable about how to effectively lead people,” she stated. “As the compliance officer at United Savings, I touch a little bit of each department and work with others on various projects, and I often present (not always popular) changes and instructions. Our CEO thought it would be beneficial for me to learn about leading others effectively, which in turn helps the credit union.”
She continues, “The coursework was straightforward, and this program allows you to keep your results throughout the coursework so you can review whenever you have time. It was especially eye-opening to learn how others in my organization see me! My personality traits didn’t surprise me – but how those traits can be perceived by others did, and I learned how to adapt in some areas to relate to others more effectively. Before you can lead others, you must be able to lead yourself, and you also have to put in the “people” work – building relationships with your staff to establish trust and care. Very few people want to do good work for someone or for an organization they think doesn’t care about them, but they will go above and beyond when they are genuinely appreciated and acknowledged. We learned plenty, but those were two themes that stuck out to me. This training gives you knowledge and skills to practice now in preparation for future leadership positions,” she concluded.
Kelsey says that ever since she was promoted to Member Services Supervisor in 2021, she wanted to learn how to be the best leader she could be. At the recommendation of her CEO, she signed up expecting to learn more about herself and her leadership style. While she achieved all that, she said she also received great tips and feedback that she could immediately apply to her position. She adds that while it was not difficult to complete the coursework, she did spend some time outside the virtual sessions, but was always able to get any questions answered over email, in addition to receiving helpful feedback from her course mentor, Deanna from iLead.
“I learned a lot about my personality type,” she remarked. “Some things I already knew but didn’t realize were such a big part of my personality! This was the first time I’d ever taken a DiSC assessment and I feel like it really opened my eyes to my personality type and how to best communicate with other personalities. I also learned that while I am on the right track to be a great leader, I still have to put the work in and gain more experience in a few areas. But, because of this program I am now aware of the areas that need attention, and I can focus on growing even more as a leader. It was a great experience,” she concluded.
Jim Schaefbauer, CEO of United Savings CU, now has three employees who have completed the program. His first graduate, Laura Hausmann, Financial Services Representative, and now Elizabeth and Kelsey. Schaefbauer says, “It is our responsibility to build our bench strength by identifying, encouraging, and training individuals in our credit unions so they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to be our replacements in the management and senior leadership positions. The result has been that my staff that attended the program have indicated it is worth their time, and there is value in the things they learned. From my perspective, the better results will be more long term. I consider this an investment in our staff and the future of the credit union,” he concluded.
Currently the Dakota Credit Union Foundation has one scholarship still available for the program in the amount of $1,250 – which covers half the cost of the entire program! If you would like to apply, click here to submit an application and be sure to include “iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program” in the description.
For more information about the iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program visit our website or contact DakCU’s Chief Officer of Strategic Services, George McDonald at 701.250.3942.
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