Four things people need from leaders in a crisis

Sandra McDowell of eLeadership Academy
Sandra McDowell of eLeadership Academy

Young credit union professionals learned some of the keys to growing into successful leaders when it matters most during the third session of the 2020 WYCUP Virtual Forum.

Sandra McDowell, founder of eLeadership Academy and an expert in the applied neuroscience of leadership, delivered a presentation on “Leading Forward Through Adversity”—which tied in the current COVID-19 pandemic to show how professionals should lead during a crisis.

McDowell said leaders need to provide:

  • Trust.
  • Connection.
  • Stability.
  • Hope.

“From a leadership perspective, we need to trust people. We need to say, ‘I trust you.’ And when we do that, we actually send a positive signal to the brain of the other person,” said McDowell.

Along with providing a platform where young credit union professionals can connect, share and live the credit union values of cooperation and people helping people, the WYCUP program also helps build leadership skills.

“And you are so positioned to move into that space. The credit union (industry) needs you to move into that space,” McDowell told the hundreds of young professionals attending the session from around the globe.

McDowell explained that leaders must establish a connection with people to grow that trust and allow for empathy.

“Empathy is a choice and it’s not only good for the receiver, it’s good for you too,” said McDowell.

Stability is important, according to McDowell, because it helps to form the culture of an organization. It starts with leaders effectively managing their emotions.

“Emotions are contagious,” said McDowell. “It’s about being pragmatic, optimistic and logical.”

McDowell also outlined how things such as proper sleep, diet, even exercise can contribute to that stability.

“Leadership starts with self. It really does. If we don’t lead by example, we can’t lead for our families or for our credit unions, we really can’t,” said McDowell.

Finally, like empathy, McDowell said hope is a choice—and one a leader must choose to embrace.

“Choose hope for the pandemic, choose hope for the credit union and choose hope for all of us to make the world a better place,” said McDowell.

What’s Next

The 2020 WYCUP Virtual Forum concludes Friday, July 24 with a 10:00 a.m. CST (US) Spanish/Portuguese language-only session—Empoderando a Jóvenes para Cambiar el Mundo (Empowering Youth to Change the World).