JLNO’s members have the opportunity to craft a Junior League experience that is unique to their goals of becoming trained volunteers and effective leaders. Our members gain knowledge, develop experience, and build relationships to continue addressing our community’s needs beyond what they do within the Junior League. We’ve designed our membership curriculum around these core competencies of volunteers and leaders.
The most important competency according to the survey completed by JLNO members, and echoed in numerous sources, is the ability to communicate effectively. Good communication skills typically include active listening, nonverbal communication, speaking concisely and clearly, and public speaking. The best communicators incorporate elements of confidence, respect, and empathy in their interactions with others.
Successful teamwork is when a group of people are working together towards a common goal in a positive atmosphere, supporting each other and the group as a whole using their individual strengths. As an individual, being a team player means being able to collaborate, communicate, and be relied upon by your colleagues.
Everyone agrees that leadership is critical, but definitions of leadership and leadership styles vary dramatically. The Harvard Business Review and Forbes identify crucial aspects of leadership as professionalism, reflection, and the ability to earn the respect and trust of your team and inspire them to be their best. The best leaders are often charismatic, and able to leverage that appeal in energizing their team.
Time Management and Organizational Skills
Time management means working efficiently, often by prioritizing and delegating effectively. Often, time management is considered a subcategory of organizational skills, which are crucial to allowing volunteers to remain focused on different projects without getting disoriented or lost. Other organizational skills include attention to detail, budgeting, and goal-setting.
Patience and Flexibility
While both patience and flexibility are often considered personality traits, they are also important aspects of a successful community leader. Patience is often characterized by the ability to be comfortable in uncertain situations, and to support others as they learn and grow in their roles. Flexibility – the ability to adapt to changing circumstances – is particularly important in the context of community organizations, where resources are often limited and participants are volunteering their time rather than functioning as paid employees.
Vision and Creativity
Tony Mayo, for The Harvard Business Review, writes that “the ability to visualize and articulate a possible future for an organization or company has always been a vital component of successful leadership.” For a volunteer-based organization, the vision is typically the effect that you hope your service will have upon others and the world. Closely tied to vision is creativity, which would be characterized in a volunteer context by your ability to think out-of-the-box and develop innovative solutions to community and organizational needs.
Program Planning and Delivery
One aspect of being a community leader is being able to not only conceive of an initiative, but use your organizational skills and teamwork to plan and deliver that initiative to your target audience. Planning requires that you have a strong knowledge of your community and its needs, and craft your vision accordingly. Delivering a program draws not only on the former articulated values of patience and flexibility, but also communication skills, time management, facilitation, and most of all, leadership.
Awareness of the Organization and Community
Developing an awareness of the organization for which you serve is imperative in order to lead. A true understanding of your organization and the way it works, including your role within it, allows you to maximize your efficacy as a volunteer. Awareness of your community is important in order to identify not only the most needed work, but potential partners and place-specific approaches. Both types of awareness require you to be attentive to and perceptive of the world around you.