So You Want to Be a Leader; A 3-Step Primer

First, let’s define leadership.

Leadership IS NOT about title, rank, direct reports or hierarchal power.

Leadership IS about creating change. A person that is not creating change is maybe good at tasks and people management but not a leader.

Being a leader requires the individual to have the courage to take risks, use her/his voice in areas and with topics they have an expertise, think forward to redefine the future of their work, the department, or organization.  It crosses all strata of an organization.

By subscribing to this definition of leadership, everyone in an organization has the opportunity to be a leader. It does require that you continually look at the work you do and make your managers aware of ideas on how your job could be done better or more efficiently, how the member could be served better and how co-workers could work more effectively together.

Consider the power of this distributed leadership model.

If everyone were to look at the day-to-day tasks they would perform for the member and the organization they will recognize they have much authority within the scope of their work.  We are all in roles at the credit union because we are meeting or exceeding performance expectations. In our position, we are continually striving to become expert, learning, growing, improving every day. Improving expertise yields increased authority that in turn creates greater responsibility to use this expertise for improvement.

There is significant power when every one of uses our expertise to inspire a change of process, procedure, and practice or system improvement.  As incremental as each of these inspired changes seem, the cumulative impact has incredible organizational significance. Think of the metaphor of receiving a penny and this penny would double every day. In a short amount of time, you’d have $1M!

How do I, one person, become seen as a leader?

  1. Take 30-60 minutes a week to analyze what you do, how you do it and what impact your work has on others in the process — the “what impact” is important because there may be dependencies in the work of your teammates that need to be understood. This step may also create awareness of other inefficiencies in the process – it can cascade.
  2. This concentrated effort will allow you to act on those “pain points” of our work; those tasks that we do a certain way because that’s the way we always did them, or that’s the way we were taught, and we sense there’s got to be a better way.
  3. From this weekly exercise, take your “ah ha” to your supervisor and discuss this improvement idea

Leadership is about inspiring change, and everyone can become a leader from our seats on the bus. When better to start than NOW? Be the change. To research a leadership development class, click this link:


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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