The Transformative Power of Empathy and Service in Credit Union Leadership

Shawn Temple
The Transformative Power of Empathy and Service in Credit Union Leadership

Ambition. Competition. Each are valuable in their own ways…but they’re less helpful when it comes to bank or credit union leadership. So, what are the keys to successful leadership?

Empathy and servant leadership. But what do these words mean?

Well, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Servant leadership is a leadership style focused on serving and supporting others. Let’s take a deeper dive into how each of these traits can transform your bank or credit union leadership style.


Empathy Fosters Connection and Understanding


Empathy lies at the core of emotional intelligence and plays a pivotal role in building meaningful relationships. In leadership, empathy is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and understanding.

When leaders demonstrate empathy, they create a safe environment where individuals feel valued and heard. This fosters a culture of trust, allowing team members to express themselves openly and share their concerns. No judgment. No reprisal. Just open dialogue.

An empathetic environment will also boost your employees’ productivity. As Simon Sinek notes, when employees feel safe at work, they can focus 100% of their energy and work on external factors.

Some other characteristics of empathetic leadership are:

  • Actively listening to team members and factoring their perspectives into decisions
  • Leading differently based on each individual’s needs and personality
  • Managing conflict thoughtfully and producing constructive (not impulsive) solutions

Prioritize empathy in your bank or credit union leadership, and you’ll create an attractive workplace culture in a tough labor market. Plus, your empathetic leadership will draw more ideas out of employees…helping you to identify future leaders more quickly.


Servant Leadership Puts Others First


Servant leadership flips the traditional leadership script, where leaders are at the top and employees are at the bottom. Instead, servant leaders see themselves as stewards. They place the needs of their team members first and empower them to reach their full potential.

Really, this fits in nicely with the credit union mantra of “people helping people.” Except this time, you’re helping your employees rather than your members.

But what does this leadership style look like? Servant leaders actively support the personal and professional growth of their team members. They provide mentorship, coaching and opportunities for skill development.

The number one reason people leave jobs is lack of career development. By investing in their team's growth, servant leaders prevent nasty attrition issues. They cultivate a sense of loyalty and commitment among team members, leading to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction.

Other characteristics of servant leaders are: 

  • Promoting a culture of ownership, empowering employees to take responsibility
  • Embodying humility, integrity and organizational values
  • Living by the word “we” rather than the word “I”

Becoming a servant leader will revolutionize your bank or credit union leadership because it inspires others to follow your example. People will listen to you not because they have to, but because they want to.

Watch this brief clip from Jim Collins to see it phrased another way:



Equip Yourself for the Future


Empathy and servant leadership are not just fleeting bank or credit union leadership fads; they impact the bottom line by building genuine connections and fostering trust. Organizations that prioritize empathy and servant leadership are also better able to adapt to change, attract top talent and create a fulfilling work experience for their employees.

In a challenging labor market, that is precisely what is needed.   

Are you ready to equip your current and future leaders for what’s to come? Book a free consultation today to discover how On The Mark Strategies leadership training will help your leaders grow.

Shawn Temple
Strategy Director