Teamwork makes Leadership Work!

By: Karen Metzger

Teamwork is a critical component of every aspect of the Junior League- promoting volunteerism, developing women, and improving our community.  JLI leaders consistently report that strengthening their teamwork skills through the Junior League trains them for personal and professional life and increases the JLI’s performance in community projects.  It’s a domino effect: when individual women develop tangible skills, our members have the positive experiences that translate into the higher member retention rates that multiply the JLI’s community impact.  JLI teamwork builds food pantries, equips schools, and organizes one of the most successful Holiday Marts in the country.

Forbes Magazine describes leadership as a skill that “requires people to manage their egos, develop humility, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and above all, commit to one another and to a common goal.”  Teamwork is a valuable skill for any facet of an individual’s life, and the JLI is no exception.  Through teamwork, League leaders have the opportunity to learn about the value of effective communication, the importance of staying positive, delegation, and the meaning of servant leadership.

When asked how being a leader in the JLI taught her about teamwork, current Board member Lauren Weintraut stressed the importance of teamwork in her approach to effectively managing a committee. “I’ve learned that we each have unique communication preferences and it’s important to take the time to listen to each woman around the table.  Perhaps ‘listen’ means meeting with them individually over a glass of wine or following up with an email after the meeting… we are not truly working together as a team unless each member feels that they have an opportunity to express themselves.” Longtime JLI member Laura Cole expressed similar thoughts. She shared that “JLI leadership has taught me a lot about channeling the talents and experiences of others… to get things done efficiently and successfully. Everyone is different and we have to remember that as we tackle important work together.” Triple placed Ali Norman agrees. “As a leader, it’s important to make sure your committee members feel engaged, valued, and heard.”

Ali also expressed how teamwork shines a light on the importance of communication.   When committees or leaders don’t communicate, so much is lost. “Much more can be accomplished by working as a team than if we work in silos.” Team focused communication skills are easily translatable to the workplace. Lauren Weintraut added that bettering her leadership skills within the League allowed her to gain the confidence and direction she needed in a challenging work environment.

Nearly every woman interviewed mentioned the many “hats” that JLI volunteers wear, and the importance of understanding teamwork from a volunteer management perspective.  Ali Norman explained that “it’s important to get things done efficiently, but it’s equally important to have compassion.” Learning to delegate is vital because JLI women are “wives, moms, volunteers to other organizations, bosses, employees, sisters, daughters.  Sometimes we can devote more time than others to the JLI.  Working together to balance availability, talents, and passions is the only way we can succeed at getting the important work of the JLI complete,” Laura Cole explained.

Current board member Jayme Short-De Leon summarized the impact of her JLI leadership experience by sharing that the following: “I have learned something new about myself, leadership, and teamwork with every project that I’ve worked on during my tenure in the JLI.  I’ve taken these lessons and have been able to apply them in both my work and personal life. Being a member and a leader within this organization has helped shape who I have become as an adult, and I am forever grateful.”

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