First Person: Leadership Reflection

When I reflect on my Junior League leadership experiences since joining in 2004, three words come to mind: Passion, Purpose and Vision. It has truly been a pleasure to serve as a leader to many of the committees, projects, councils (now teams) and serve on the board in two leagues.

One experience stands out the most, serving as the Junior League of Phoenix Foundation President for my third term. When I first served on the foundation it was a part of my role as VP Development. Why does that matter? Well it matters because I was not aware when I took the role that was part of the “job”. I was initially not excited about this additional responsibility and did not know much about the Foundation. In my first year, I developed a PASSION for the Foundation. I am passionate about the foundation because it truly can drive the mission of the Junior League of Phoenix by providing much needed financial resources.

Passion: a strong feeling, irresistible motive for a belief or action. I learned early on from my JLP experience that there are many things out there we can do. BUT, there truly are many people to do them. If it is something that I am not truly passionate about it does not go on my list of activities. Think about it, if you don’t have the PASSION for something then when something needs to be done on a Friday night you won’t do it. Find a few things you’re IRRESISTIBLY PASSIONATE about and pour all your time and energy into those things.

The leader sets the pace for the pack! Leading with passion truly speeds up the work of the pack. If a leader is checked out, using this as a resume builder, or not passionate about the cause the pack suffers. The passion is contagious. If you are lacking passion for something, or lost the IRRESISTIBLE PASSION! Move on or find it again!
purposePurpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. There are numerous books about finding your purpose in life. All of which tie in with doing what you are passionate about. In the terms of the League, let’s look at the purpose for why we do things. As a leader of the Foundation, it’s important for me to have a clear understanding for the why and easily draw the line for those involved. We can raise lots of money, complete all our yearly goals and check off all the non-profit boxes but this begs the question WHY are we doing this? We are doing this because we believe in the Junior League and the impact we have made on the phoenix community. It’s not about the Facebook posts or the minutes… it’s about the community impact. All day every day!

Once you have passion and know the purpose THEN WHAT? Well you need to have a vision. Vision: a clear picture for the future for the organization or project with the power of anticipating that which will come to be and making it happen. This is where many leaders fail by leading following the status quo. I always think about Blockbuster Video. Why? As the world changed they were status quo. They maintained status quo as the red box moved into grocery stores and Netflix started shipping videos. Once they realized what was happening it was too late. As a leader moving the mission and purpose of the organization is essential.
Sometimes the vision is not clear, but a leader must have one. Good leaders can see past the day to day and into the future. Great leaders also know the small steps that it takes to achieve the grand vision. Think about it for a second. If you know you want to go to Asia in a boat and can see yourself there you have vision. But you don’t know anything about how boats run you will never achieve the vision. How does a leader meet the vision? They get people excited and surround themselves with people who have the skills they do not. Then learn from them.

Things to Remember!
1) Find your passion! Do only things your passionate about!
2) Lead with Passion
3) Know your Organization’s Purpose
4) Move the mission and purpose forward with a vision!
5) Surround yourself with people who have the skills you do not; learn from them!

Overall my experience as the President of the Foundation has taught me how to be passionate, know the purpose and have a clear vision. Leadership is challenging and ever changing (remember Blockbuster). Things change daily. But my leadership style has evolved over time. I am proud to lead a great organization and proud of the accomplishments the Foundation board has achieved!

by, Sara Mayer