Leading Leaders

Around this time last year, I applied to be a Team Leader for City Year Seattle/King County. I remember thinking about how much I had grown in just 8 months of service already and how I could grow even more staying with the organization and working with others who already knew my strengths and also areas of growth. I also knew that I wasn’t sure what was next for my career path and that I wanted to stay in Seattle. I applied and thought I knew what the Team Leader role entailed.

It’s now 9 months into my service year as a Team Leader and I can say that it hasn’t been what I expected because I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m in a different school, working with a different team and a different Program Manager. My Team Leader role also looks different from the other Team Leaders at other schools. This year, I’ve grown as a leader and coach and it’s been challenging.

With that being said, Corps Members currently in their first year are starting to think about applying for the Team Leader position. In January, the position is publicized and people start talking about their interest in applying. Staff even host two open house events where they inform Corps Members more about the role and what it entails. I attended two of those last year and found them more beneficial hearing from the Team Leaders I knew and not just the staff. I found that the few present Team Leaders were more open and honest in how they spoke about their varying roles. I wanted Corps Members of this year to feel the same from our Team Leader team.

So I thought what if our TL team hosted our own event where we provided that open and honest conversation to the Corps Members interested in being a Team Leader? No staff. Just Team Leaders and Corps Members.

I pitched the idea to my Program Director with a simple text: What do you think about an Open House hosted just by the TLs? Just an idea!

She replied with: I love it! Keep me updated with the details you work out.

And the rest was truly history because it had never been done before at our site.

I pitched it to our Team Leader team and all 9 of them were on board. Because everyone was enthusiastic about the project, it wasn’t hard getting support in planning the different components of the event.

Long story, short: The event came together so easily! It was at my house with food and all 10 Team Leaders were present, which I thought was important! It was well-structured and thought out. The Team Leaders felt great about it and the Corps Members all left with smiles! I kept getting ‘thank you’s and ‘great job’s at the end of the night! With our saved planning, this is now an event that can be done for years to come with other Team Leader teams. With all of this, I felt successful in not only the event, but my leadership.

Through the planning process, I felt reflective, innovative, and collaborative. Being fueled by my own enthusiasm and passion for the event, I think I was able to have the same carry on to my fellow Team Leaders and even the Corps Members. The number one thing I made sure to share with the prospective TLs was that your role is truly what you make of it and I used the event, itself, as an example. I took an idea and made it come alive with some thoughtfulness, dedication, and work. From this, I am definitely valuing this experience as a leader.


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