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Management and Leadership in Nonprofits

Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


Your path to leadership: Never forget where you came from

Sep 11, 2020
By: Tammy T. Jelinek
Your path to leadership: Never forget where you came from

I’ve been reflecting on my path to leadership these past few weeks. 

It was triggered by an interesting event: bereavement leave. I hope you do not have to look up your bereavement leave policy often. 

Two weeks ago, I did need to look it up and put it to use, and it got me thinking about my path to leadership. I did not graduate high school thinking I would be a partner in a firm. I graduated high school thinking get a job, pay the bills. I was not heading to college, as my guidance counselor said it would be a waste of time because I did not have the grades for it.

My path to leadership was rocky, and curvy, and had hills and valleys. It was working your way up and keep working once you got there. It was holding down a full-time job and six years of night school. It was starting hourly and moving into exempt positions. It was learning and growing, and then more learning and growing. It was mentors and people who believed in me before I did, and then me believing in myself before others did. Yours may have been that way too.

How does this have anything to do with bereavement leave? 

When I look at the policies and procedures of any business, I still look at them through the lens of the newest person on the job, who is hourly, and who would be most impacted by missing one day of unpaid work, or any unpaid leave. Even if that is not my current situation, that is the lens I go back to every time. 

How often do you go through your policies and procedures, your benefits and your processes from the lens of who you were versus who you are now?

We get reminded often to never forget where you came from when you get to where you are going. This was a great reminder for me, and I hope you get those reminders occasionally too.


Tammy T. Jelinek, MBA
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