What it Means to Be a Leader: A JA Perspective

Posted in: JA Impact, JA Team

“Trusting, empathetic and supportive — each is fundamental to empowering a team to succeed.” Katherine Cecala, President of Junior Achievement of Arizona, reflects on the qualities that she feels are crucial to effectively run a successful team or organization. At JA, we believe leadership comes in many forms; from educators leading a classroom to volunteers running an event registration booth; from each of our staff taking charge of their various roles to the students we serve acting as role models for their peers. We aim to inspire and encourage leadership in all facets of our mission.

But at the helm, we acknowledge fearless leadership like that of Katherine Cecala. She was recently interviewed by inBusiness Magazine and was featured as one of the “Top 21 Leaders Who are Making a Real Difference” in Phoenix, Arizona. So what is it that makes her such a role model for leadership in our organization and our state?

“As leaders, we must believe in the individual members as much as in the greater group — trust that they will put in the work, they are committed to the goals and that together, and only together, we can achieve our shared vision,” notes Katherine. And it’s true! At JA, each one of our parts is as strong as the whole. Last school year we reached over 70,000 students in one of the most challenging educational climates the country has seen. This year, thanks to the many dedicated people who support JA, we are set to reach well over 80,000.

Katherine additionally noted, “We must foster environments where our teams know we care, where we see the whole person and where we celebrate their individual contributions and value as part of the greater success. We must support our teams through coaching, development, generative thinking and helping to carry the load when necessary.” Did you know that JA was named A Best Place to Work by Phoenix Business Journal in 2018? Creating a work environment that acknowledges its employees as people first is certainly something JA does well, thanks to Katherine.

And whether or not you are currently a leader within your company or community, there is something we all can do to improve the world we live in: “We can spend more effort on making a difference and taking action. Have a bias for action and be more nimble. I believe we have the expertise and, if we partner and draw on everyone’s strengths, we can accelerate economic growth,” Katherine stated. Through JA’s mission, we are doing so by empowering today’s youth to grow as leaders and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to make lasting change in the community for the greater good. And that is exactly what leadership is all about.

Want to read the entire interview? Check it out!