Volunteer Spotlight: Gayle Lantz
PUI: Can you give us an example of a leader that you consider to be strong and effective? What is it about this individual that stands out to you?
GL: One of the most impressive leaders I coached was already extremely successful, but wanted to learn more and grow personally. He looked for ways to challenge his thinking and gain exposure to new ideas and perspectives. He modeled what he wanted his team to do. His focus was on growing people as much as growing the business. Service over ego.
PUI: How essential has volunteer leadership been for your own professional development?
GL: My volunteer leadership experience at Career Connections, and with other organizations, has always been mission driven. My strengths are visioning and strategic thinking. If I see a need I really care about and believe I can impact, I will take action – even if the vision isn’t entirely clear at that point. I like to start initiatives that can grow. So professional development has been more of a byproduct as opposed to a goal. But my volunteer leadership experience has been essential in helping me grow personally and professionally.
PUI: What advice would you give to someone looking to find a meaningful volunteer leadership position?
GL: Just start something. Don’t wait. If you feel strongly about a cause, need or mission, talk to other people with similar interests. Voice what you really care about. You can make an immediate impact. Adjust and grow from there. That’s what we did with Career Connections. The need for people to find work was critical. We could have taken days, weeks or months to plan an ideal approach, but we had immediate expertise and support to offer. So we said, “Let’s get started!” I wasn’t looking for a leadership role. I simply wanted to help. I think that’s the case with many volunteer leaders. The leadership role finds them. They take action because they feel compelled to make a positive impact. Progress beats perfection when you’re trying to make a difference.
Gayle, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and provide our readers with such valuable insight from a proven leader.
When you think of a strong leader, who do you think of? Why?
Leave a comment and let us know.
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Volunteer Spotlight: Gayle Lantz
Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, executive coach, author, speaker and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She helps organizations and entrepreneurs get clear and focused so they can grow their business and themselves more quickly. She also helps individual leaders who want to take charge of their own career path doing work that matters and provides a lot of good insight & information on the WorkMattersBlog. Her services reach local, national and global markets. As a volunteer leader, she is co-founder of Career Connections.
Projects Unlimited, Inc. (PUI): From your perspective, how can volunteer leaders truly affect positive change in a member-based organization?
Gayle Lantz (GL): By keeping a clear and compelling vision in view. It’s not about “pushing and pulling” people, but inspiring members to be a part of something important that makes a big difference. Engage members in conversations about what the organization is trying to accomplish. Let them know their voice is needed as you move in new directions. Stop trying to do so much yourself, or you’ll burn out.
PUI: Are there any unusual “off the beaten path” type qualities of effective leaders that you find to be particularly endearing and effective?
GL: One quality is enduring optimism. People always want to have a sense of hope. These leaders view challenges through a different lens – one of new possibilities. They also constantly raise the bar, resisting status quo thinking. They expand their vision of what’s possible, and are on fire to make it happen. Instead of trying to go from A to B, they already see G or H down the path. They think bigger.
PUI: Have you noticed any trends in the roadblocks that are keeping individuals or organizations from reaching their full potential as leaders?
GL: Yes. The biggest roadblock is usually their own mindset. Some individuals and organizations hold themselves back based on fears, doubts — unwillingness to take risk, invest or make a mistake. Mindset matters as much as (and sometimes even more than) skills. Also, organizations can be too slow in their decision making – overcomplicating the process – so they miss opportunities to make a stronger impact more quickly.
Click for the second half of the interview.
Career Connections, previously the Career Assistance Network for Birmingham (CAN-B), is working hard to help area professionals connect with resources, professional expertise, and other motivated job seekers to share stories and helpful tips during tough job transitions.
Gayle Lantz of WorkMatters, Gerriann Fagan of The Prism Group, and Lou Thibodaux, deacon in the Episcopal Church of Birmingham, founded CAN-B two years ago as a website. The initial goal of CAN-B was to bring together information from local church career ministries and monthly meetings for job seekers to find in one centralized website, and for job seekers to use this as a resource for networking opportunities and advice from job transition experts.
The Career Connections website has grown to a blog format with information on monthly meetings, other opportunities for networking, resources, and information on speakers for their monthly meetings. Their monthly meetings are not only opportunities for motivated job seekers to network and learn new tips from experts, though. These meetings have turned into a time for people to share their stories and experiences as they work through the sometimes difficult roller coaster that is a job transition. This was never a defined goal for Career Connections, but the leaders are happy to see that their work is offering support to others.
Career Connections is not the only group that has been formed to support the long-term unemployed during their job transitions; Career Builders, Career Assistance LLC, and others are just some that were highlighted in this article written by Roy L. Williams from The Birmingham News.
Career Connections meetings are held on the 4th Monday of every month. Join them this month at their meeting to hear from Glenn Phillips of Forte` Incorporated.