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Chartway FCU Board chair shares her thoughts on leadership.

August 13, 2010
KEYWORDS board , chair , leadership
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Judy Sparrow, board chair of $1.2 billion asset Chartway Federal Credit Union, Virginia Beach, Va., says the challenging economic times require flexibility on the part of the credit union and board. In an interview with Credit Union Directors Newsletter, Sparrow reflects on leadership, the credit union philosophy, and her choice dinner companions.

How does your CU demonstrate the CU difference? Keeping our focus on what's best for the member in all of our decisions.

What does "people helping people" mean to you? Empowering members with ownership of their economic future.

Describe your leadership style: I consider myself to be an idea person, using creativity in the "idea" process.

What one trait has proven most valuable to you as a leader? Enthusiasm for what I believe is a good thing.

What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? A sense that I can make a difference.

How did you learn about CUs? Through the formation of a credit union by the employees at my husband's workplace.

What's the best advice you've received? To recognize and trust in the abilities of those around me.

The worst advice? Accepting "no" as the final answer.

Whom do you admire most, and why? Nelson Mandela because he was able to forgive personal injustice for the greater cause.

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you choose? Thomas Jefferson and Amelia Earhart with Larry King to facilitate the conversation.

What hobbies do you enjoy? Book clubs, gardening, live theatre, and enriching the lives of my grandchildren.

Directors Newsletter

This article was featured in the August 2010 issue of Credit Union Directors Newsletter.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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