The Monthly Leader Review Volume 1, Issue 4
April 2006


Welcome to the April issue of the Monthly Leader Review a newsletter that consists of an interview with a leader in the world of business, community and sports. This months interview is with a leader in the Non-Profit Sector - Linda Nelson, Director, Training Funds BJ32.

For the first 13 years of her career, Linda worked with homeless people as well as families on public assistance linking them with housing and job opportunities. She enjoyed seeing people realize their potential once they started learning new things and receiving a paycheck.

For the last several years, she has administered the Training Fund for a large union that has 80,000 members. Many of the members are immigrants who are living the American Dream and she finds it very rewarding to play a small part in it.

Linda's current team consists of about 100 professionals and instructors who provide over 100 different academic, computer and industry-related courses and seminars to the members in 20 different locations throughout the tri-state area. Their day to day work includes curriculum development, ensuring they are keeping the classes current with new developments in the industry, fundraising, managing budgets, answering to a Board of Directors that has both union and employer representation and ensuring they attract and maintain adequate enrollment in our classes.

The April Leader Interview
  • Linda Nelson - Director, Training Funds BJ32

    Linda Nelson - Director, Training Funds BJ32

    Steve Gavatorta: What motivates you?

    Linda Nelson: I love my job. I am really lucky to have chosen a career where I have the opportunity to help people achieve their educational goals while working with a diverse and talented group of people. That combination really gets me up in the morning!

    Steve Gavatorta: How do you motivate your team?

    Linda Nelson: I make sure everyone feels appreciated and see's their part in our larger mission. Twice a year, I reward them with a staff retreat where we get out of the office and go to someone's house outside of the City or to a beach retreat. We eat and laugh and do some work-related but fun team-building exercises. I find that the time away from the office pays off immensely in the way the team works together when we get back to the office.

    Steve Gavatorta: Describe your leadership style?

    Linda Nelson: I am a relaxed, hands-off leader. I let me employees know that I trust them to do their best at each task. If I get a product back that is not as expected, I ask them if there was something I could have done to have been more clear in my instructions. I find that my staff work harder if I do not micromanage them and it helps them to be better decision makers if they are not dependent on me for everything.

    Steve Gavatorta: Who do you consider a good leader/role model & why?

    Linda Nelson: Professionally, it would have to be Peter Drucker. Non-profits often have the reputation of being unorganized and unprofessional. He shows us that successful non-profits need to run like a business.

    Steve Gavatorta: How do you continue to lead through times of adversity?

    Linda Nelson: I make sure I communicate with my staff so there are no surprises. If there are budget problems, I let them know in advance what our strategy will be to address them (and ask for their input). If layoffs may occur, I prepare them in advance, sometimes individually, so they have as much time as possible to come up with alternative employment.

    Steve Gavatorta: Tell me of some unique approaches you've used in managing, leading and/or motivating your team?

    Linda Nelson: Sometimes if I am not sure a team member has the skills for a certain task, I pair them with someone else and have them figure it out together. This allows them to gain confidence from their accomplishments as a team so that maybe they'll be able to do it themselves next time.

    Steve Gavatorta: Do you have any suggested reading on Management, Motivation and/or Leadership?

    Linda Nelson: "The Leadership for Challenge" by Kouzes and Posner; "Managing to Have Fun" by Matt Weinstein and "1001 Ways to Reward Employees" by Bob Nelson.

    Steve Gavatorta: Thanks for your time, Linda.

    Photo by Juliana Thomas at www.jtphoto.com

    Hello, I'm Steve Gavatorta & welcome you to the first addition of the Monthly Leader Review. I hope you enjoy the interview and find it helpful. Please feel free to forward it on to others - there is no fee for signing up. For more about me, simply click on the link below.

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