Inspirational Leadership – Shawn Good, CEO of Prospera Credit Union

I believe that leadership can make or break an organization. When the right leaders are in place it has a huge impact on employee engagement, innovation, profitability and the overall success of the company. In order to explore this area further I have started an Inspirational Leadership Series. I will be interviewing progressive CEO’s in a variety of industries who have a deep commitment to leadership development. My hope with this series is to encourage more organizations to invest in their leaders and learn from companies that are making this a priority.

My first interview is with Shawn Good, the President and CEO of Prospera Credit Union. Shawn leads the strategic direction of British Columbia’s fourth largest credit union guided by a mission to attain financial well-being and sustainability for the credit union, its members, employees and the communities they serve. He is a leader dedicated to innovation, who has an extensive background spanning more than 20 years within the credit union industry who is committed to continuous learning and development.

It was a pleasure to speak with Shawn and learn more about his experience and perspective on leadership.

KristenWhat does inspirational leadership mean to you?

Shawn – An inspirational leader can be the catalyst or governor for great success. They hold things back or move them forward. Almost all of the issues that rise up in an organization boil down to leadership. If you’re going to be an effective leader you need to understand yourself, understand others and have the courage to do the right thing. This starts by getting clear on your core values, how you’re showing up and understanding what drives you. You need to have a clear purpose and vision for yourself and your teams.

Kristen – What has been your path? How have you developed your leadership skills?

Shawn – I have had some great mentors. When I was in my twenties, one of my mentors asked me – what drives you? I was successful but I wasn’t sure about the driving force. I realized there were some unhealthy things that were driving my behaviours like ego and experiences from my childhood. I became more aware of my energy and focus. I learned to forgive and let go of the past. It’s about moving on and releasing what’s not serving you. Teams and organizations also need forgiveness in order to let go of the past.

Kristen – What are some of the barriers to inspirational leadership?

Shawn – There is too much focus on technical competencies. Many people are hired for IQ, but successful leaders have high EQ. Also, it’s a problem when organizations don’t clearly define the leadership competencies. At Prospera, everyone understands the leadership competencies and the behaviours associated with them. Incentives are tied to these behaviours so there is accountability. Bad behaviour is not rewarded.

Kristen – How do you become an inspirational leader?

Shawn – Here are 5 important steps:

  1. Start with an honest self-assessment, use 360’s and get independent feedback on how you’re showing up. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What’s your brand?
  1. Vision – articulate a clear vision of the future. Paint a picture of what’s possible. The picture should be so vivid that everyone can see it in their minds. When you ask employees about it, they can clearly articulate it in their own words and want to be a part of it. They should want to sign up with this company. You know they have fully embraced it when they feel empowered to challenge future actions that are not aligned with the vision.
  1. Structure – Rewards, incentives, governance and risk management need to align with the vision. The structure needs to adjust.
  1. Team & Leadership need to be on board – they need to understand it and be fully engaged with the vision. They are embodying it in their mind and hearts.
  1. Execution and Accountability – you need to track the right things.

Kristen – How does HR get buy-in for leadership development?

Shawn – Top leadership either gets it or they don’t. Help the CEO understand why this is so important with data, facts and case studies. Show the CEO what best in class companies are doing. If engagement is low – why? How can you change that? Show them studies like The Courage Report by Deloitte or studies that demonstrate the impact of leadership on innovation and productivity such as Innovation Indexes.

Kristen – What are your leadership principles?

Shawn – I’m a servant leader and believe in transformational leadership.

The principles of Transformational Leadership:

  1. Inspire people through the use of stories (powerful storytelling)
  2. Idealized Influence/Clear Values
  3. Authentically care for people – show that they matter. All of the small details get noticed.
  4. Intellectual Stimulation – challenge and empower people

Some really great insight from Shawn around what it looks like to get people on board with the company vision, how to create accountability and what it means to be a transformational leader.

What resonates most for you? What intentional steps can you take to develop more inspirational leaders in your organization?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader – John Quincy Adams

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