How to Win a Top Credit Union Industry Award

award nomination swoosh
Jimese Harkley, CUDE, J.D., SPP, CCE Photo

4 minutes

Advance your learning and development using these four steps.

I admit I earned a top credit union industry award before I’d had time to think long and deeply about what it typically takes to do so.

But back in 2015, when I seized the chance to participate in—and ultimately won—the Next Top Credit Union Exec challenge (now CUES Emerge), I was already walking the talk about furthering one’s own development.

For example, as philanthropy and community relations manager of $2.2 billion America’s First Federal Credit Union, Birmingham, Alabama, I regularly talked with my leaders about my interest in professional growth. I asked them for challenges. I’m grateful to them for the beneficial dialog we had.

I also took action to grow my career. I not only participated in the Next Top Credit Union Exec challenge, but I also went back to school for my law degree. And I did a lot of internal and external networking, including serving on non-profit boards and being active with the local chamber of commerce.

Now as VP of membership for CUES, I spend a lot of my day thinking about how credit union leaders can best learn in ways that benefit their careers—and potentially even set them up to earn the distinction of winning a top industry award.

To this end, I’ve developed a four-step process you can follow. Try these, and let me know how they work for you:

1. Plan

I did not have a written development plan when I was named the 2015 Next Top Credit Union Exec. But I do now. And so does every member of my team. Having a written plan helps us stay focused and committed to our goals.

Here’s a free individual development plan template from CUES. Use it to create an IDP for yourself and every member of your team. IDP best practices include setting goals, identifying worthwhile actions to take, establishing timelines, setting expectations and, of course, discussing and updating your plans at regular intervals.

2. Discuss

Talk regularly about your own and your team members’ development. At CUES, we have weekly one-on-one meetings at which we discuss development as well as the projects we have underway. I encourage the members of my team to take the time to understand what they are learning from reading, taking courses or attending learning events—and to ask questions about it.

Talking about development includes sharing successes, reviewing challenges and identifying new learning opportunities.

3. Act

My choice to accept the nomination for the Next Top Credit Union Exec challenge and then to participate fully in the program is a great example of taking action on learning and development.

This step can also mean an individual takes advantage of internal learning programs, dives into special projects that will develop skills and knowledge, or networks with peers at a virtual or in-person industry event. Planned actions should be documented in the IDP.

4. Lead

I host several short meetings each week for my membership team members. These gatherings help build cohesion and interest in what each person brings to the table. Relationship-building in the remote world requires intention. That is the kind of leadership that I want to be remembered for, being honest and intentional.

Are you leading by example? Do you devote time to your own learning? Do you help your team members carve out time to learn? Do you create opportunities for your staff to share what they are learning? This is what it means to lead in ways that develop people to the level at which they might earn the recognition of a top industry award.

I can’t promise that following these four steps will mean that you or a member of your team will get selected for an award. However, taking time to plan, discuss, act and lead as I’ve described here will certainly set you up for lots of learning and development that will pay off by way of team engagement and productivity.

I hope you’ll come to check out who’s risen to the top of the industry this year by attending our 2022 Member Appreciation and Awards Event on Oct. 20. Free to CUES members, the program will feature Claude Kelly, a four-time Grammy Award nominee who has written songs for Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars and Whitney Houston, discussing how he stayed true to his own development to become who he wanted to be. This event will also celebrate and congratulate your peers as we announce the winner in each CUES award category. I look forward to seeing you there.

Jimese Harkley, JD, CCE, CUDE, is VP/membership for CUES.

Attend the 2022 Member Appreciation and Awards Event

CUES members, be our guest at 2 p.m. Central on Oct. 20. The program includes a presentation from four-time Grammy nominee Claude Kelly and the announcement of the 2022 CUES awards winner in several categories.
Register now!
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