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Name: Stephen Zich

Business Title: Vice President, Digital Marketing

Company/Organization:  Community First Credit Union

Favorite Musician: Bruno Mars

Favorite Vacation: Disney World

Favorite Restaurant: SAP


BILL MARKLEIN: What is in the DNA of a servant leader?

ZICH: The DNA of servant leader consists of many attributes, but the three that stand out to me are humility, empathy and self-awareness. A servant leader needs to have the ability to take a step back and always put the team first. There is a quote by C.S. Lewis that states, “True Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” Empathy brings the human element to any situation. It allows a leader to better understand another person’s experience, perspective and feelings. While having a strong sense of self-awareness allows a leader recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others. It gifts the leader a heighten ability to manage your behaviors as well as the relationships you build.


BILL MARKLEIN: What has been the most important factor(s) in your leadership development journey?

ZICH: The single most important factor in my leadership journey was my time as a team member at Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin. It was an expectation that as leaders we led with our hearts. The organization invested a lot of time and energy developing team members to lead in the principles of servitude. Leaders weren’t defined by if you did or didn’t have direct reports. It was defined by the relationships you cultivated and built with customers internally and externally.


BILL MARKLEIN: How does Emotional Intelligence, the awareness and management of your own emotions and the emotions of others, play a role in your leadership?

ZICH:  It plays a very important role. Emotional Intelligence (self-awareness) was one of my three attributes that I believe every servant leader needs to have. It’s something I continue to work on, because the better I know myself the better I can be when responding to the needs of my team and others throughout my organization. Plus, it’s a great skillset to have in my everyday life when interacting with any person, because we all have our own story; not one is ever the same. 


BILL MARKLEIN: Who has made the most positive impact on your life and what is this individual’s attributes?

ZICH: Outside of my parents, it was the entire team at Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin. The experiences I will take away from my time with that organization will serve me for the remainder of my career. The growth and development has led me down the career path I am on now. It didn’t matter what role you played, from the cashier to the Ops leader. They believed the organization was a stepping stone to that next big thing in your life.

STEPHEN ZICH MORE ON LEADERSHIP: Everybody can be great . . . because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.