Never pass up an opportunity to write your own job description.
That’s what Mollie Bell did when she joined CUNA as its chief transformation officer in 2015.
Bell, a former teacher, lawyer, and salesperson who now leads CUNA’s engagement team as chief engagement officer, shared lessons from her journey with CUNA Management School students Friday in Madison, Wis.
“It’s all about winning, she says. “That means winning for you, your credit union, and your members. You make a real impact in members’ lives every day.”
Bell offers several insights about leadership:
1. Consider the leaders in your life, personal and professional. What do you admire about them, and how have they affected you?
“Everyone is a leader,” Bell says, “whether by title or influence.”
2. Be authentic. Know yourself and your defining moments.
“We all value slightly different things,” she says. “We can’t be all things to everyone. We need to be true to ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are.”
3. Embrace self-discovery. Leaders never stop learning about themselves.
“Own who you are, earn your keep, and pay it forward,” Bell advises.
4. Be confident. Engage others in an honest and forthright way.
5. Be empathetic. Step out of yourself, be vulnerable, and consider how others think and feel.
“We can’t do this effectively if we don’t know ourselves,” Bell says.
6. Have heart. How we treat others matters to us as leaders and people.
“We have to learn this skill to be good humans,” Bell says. “There’s a place for heart in our world.”
7. Practice journaling. This is a valuable tool for self-discovery.
8. Create a personal board of directors—people you trust who can serve as your coach and mentor, and help you grow.
9. Examine your unique personal values. Why are they important to you?
“When you come to a fork in the road, your values will help you make better decisions,” Bell says. “Sometimes they’ll put you on a different path.”
10. Don’t play the victim. Great leaders own who they are and how they react to situations.
11. Embrace your “personal brand,” or what people say about you when you leave the room.
Your brand reflects who you are.
“If you present yourself differently at work than you do at home, explore why,” Bell says.
12. Ditch your junk. “We all carry around luggage full of junk,” she says. “Let it go and learn to love yourself.”
Why does this matter? “It makes you a better leader,” Bell says. “And our movement needs strong leaders.”