Leadership Skills: Being A Doer To Become A Leader

WalkerZulkoski_Feature

 

By Walker Zulkoski, Executive Director of Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage)
I’ve never considered myself a “leader.” My philosophy has always been to do and steer. Meeting gets out of hand; get it back on point. People are complaining about a constant problem; address said problem. I don’t do these things because I think of myself as a leader. I do them because I only have so much time and energy—and to sit in a meeting talking about the same thing over and over again is a waste. My thoughts turn to, “Let’s get things done and move on to the next project.”

If you are in that stage of life where you work hard, you produce, people count on you and you consistently think of the next idea, then you, like so many of us, are in this state of leadership purgatory.

Many of us with this mindset are at the same point. Millennials are reaching the stage in their careers at which they master their trade and naturally begin to find new ways of accomplishing tasks more efficiently and effectively. Rather than buckle down and work harder, we step back, analyze and work smarter. We spend more time planning, listening, navigating and dreaming—knowing that we can’t do it all and that we must allow others to conquer the task with their own skills. It’s important to act on these ideas, take note of the outcomes and understand that these activities are creating future leaders.

When we do take on these initial leadership roles, we don’t completely move on, and that’s fine. As Charlette Beers describes in her article, The Three Stages of Your Career, “No one is a leader all the time,” tackling a leadership role when we need to and then reverting back to being a doer is a natural cycle. The idea doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering that turns your entire business upside down. Simple changes or projects can get you the same experience and give you the confidence to do it again.

 

“When the new idea comes to you, run with it.
Step out of your comfort zone, take a risk and lead the charge.”

 

When the new idea comes to you, run with it. Step out of your comfort zone, take a risk and lead the charge. Then go back to being a doer and think of the next idea you want to act on. The more times you do this, the more experience you gain.

Document your experience. Reflect on it to understand what did and did not work. How would you change your approach? Take your experience, and turn it into an elevator pitch. Nobody will remember that you did a good job unless you tell them. The more projects and charges you lead will add to your toolbox of knowledge and make you better the next time. Let these experiences mold you into the leader you aspire to become. It’s a never-ending process, but it needs to start now. Take your idea and run with it then go back to being a doer and think of the next one.

 


 

What will you do to define the future?

 


 

Walker Zulkoski

Walker Zulkoski

Executive Director | Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage)
Connect with Walker on LinkedIn & Facebook.

Walker Zulkoski is the Executive Director of Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage) in Beatrice, NE. Originally from Ord, Nebraska, his mission is to help rural Nebraska prosper. Walker is a graduate of the State Chamber’s Leadership Nebraska class, the RFI Leadership Development Program, Leadership Beatrice, and is currently a member of the Sherwood Foundation’s Catalyst class. He holds a bachelor degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a Master Certificate from Villanova University, and an MBA from Nebraska Wesleyan.

 

 


 

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Young Nebraskans Week

Young Nebraskans Week

 

Originally published by Greater Omaha Young Professionals

Allison Hatch, Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Kayla Schnuelle,
Rural Futures Institute
Tom Beckius, Keith Peterson, Jaime Henning & Kayla Meyer,
Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group
Luke Hoffman,
Greater Omaha Chamber Young Professionals

 

The face of young American workers, their jobs and where they work is changing.

 

By 2018, employers will see as many as five generations working side by side. More than 60 million baby boomers will exit the workforce, and by 2025, only 40 million new workers will enter to replace them. Advancements in technology will help elevate some labor shortages but not in all sectors. Estimates suggest millennials could make up as much as 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025.

Young workers today are more likely to be underemployed, earning less, living at home with their parents, delaying marriage and dependent on technology. They are less likely to be affiliated with a political party and connected to religion.

Here is what we also know. Today’s young workers are highly engaged with their work. Additionally, the jobs of today’s young workers are more mobile than they have been for any other generation. Good jobs can be as easy to locate as a good internet connection, whether you are in Albion or Atlanta, McCook or Miami, Lexington or London. As the mobility of jobs continues to increase, communities must ask how they can become more attractive to young workers. Community vibrancy is an ever-increasing factor in today’s job marketplace as workers can often choose from where they work instead of simply locating to where jobs are located.

The attraction, retention and development of young workers is vitally important for communities hoping to remain relevant in the rapidly expanding and diversified economy of the 21st Century. It is with this focus in mind that community leaders across the state of Nebraska have developed strategies to target this talent pool through attraction and retention efforts, including a specific priority to ask young workers what the community can do to make it more attractive as a place to live and work.

 

Yet, no one community knows all the best practices in attraction, retention and development of young talent, and leaders and communities are constantly faced with limited resources.

 

Yet, no one community knows all the best practices in attraction, retention and development of young talent, and leaders and communities are constantly faced with limited resources. As such, a concerted statewide coalition of leaders working together, sharing best practices and resources across the state, to focus the spotlight on young talent and vibrant communities together is the next step in making sure we are at the forefront for young workers.

Young Nebraskans Week will be a carefully curated series of speakers, discussion panels, workshops and networking opportunities hosted by communities across the state that celebrate the talent, insight and energy of young professionals working in Nebraska while also exploring the intersection between cultures and cities. Developed by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and modeled after Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group’s annual YP Week, Young Nebraskans Week aims to concentrate our state’s focus on growing, retaining and developing our youngest members of the workforce. We know that highlighting the best of what Nebraska offers is how we win the fight for young talent and helps to keep Nebraska prosperous.

 

Collaboration is the new competition.

 

As we launch Young Nebraskans Week in 2018, we will be working throughout the state with local partners to create a dynamic environment focused on young workers. We will call upon industry, labor, chambers of commerce, economic development partners and many others to help make this initiative as strong as possible. We ask every Nebraskan to join our coalition in the fight to attract and retain young workers to our state. Collaboration is the new competition.

 


 

Kayla Schnuelle

Kayla Schnuelle

Leadership Engagement Director & Network Weaver | Rural Futures Institute
@kschnuelle

Kayla Schnuelle directs the RFI Student Serviceship program, coordinates the state-wide network of young professionals, Connecting Young Nebraskans, and offers her expertise in facilitation and leadership throughout many of RFI’s initiatives.

She has developed a deep understanding of the opportunities and trials that young professionals are finding in rural places. With an immense support network in place, Kayla has coordinated three statewide summits and has assisted in planning two national Rural Futures Institute Conferences.

 


 

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The Student Side of “Serviceship”

Emily

 

By Emily Coffey, 2017 RFI Serviceship Intern & Current Serviceship Ambassador

In August, RFI wrapped up its fifth year of summer RFI Student Serviceship. This year’s interns lived in McCook, North Platte, West Point and York, working on major projects spanning economic development, workforce recruitment and retention, environmental impact and healthcare. Senior political science major Emily Coffey was placed in York, Nebraska. Below she shares some of her perspectives on the Serviceship experience.

My Serviceship partner and I were able to impact the sustainability and vitality of our rural community by gathering a variety of data that was pertinent to the economic development bill we were working to form and promote. We listened to the ideas and concerns of community leaders, applied critical analysis to their comments and the data we collected and spoke with state experts to determine legal, marketing and implementation strategies. We are confident that the service we provided to our community will help to strengthen their economic development, and we are optimistic that the bill will be successful in the upcoming election.

Beyond the scope of the projects we were assigned, we made a conscious effort to immerse ourselves in the culture of our community. We attended York’s Young Professionals events and played on their sand volleyball team. We also visited the weekly farmer’s markets and worked out at the community wellness center. We shopped locally, attended plays at the Yorkshire Playhouse and even lived with a York resident for the entirety of the summer. By becoming members of the community we were able to gain a better understanding of how our projects would affect it.

 

What connections were you able to make?

Our host team members were not only invested in the projects they gave us, but in our personal and professional development as well. They encouraged us to attend community and professional events and connected us with individuals and businesses within the community that were relevant to our future goals. As someone who aspires to go to law school, I was very appreciative of the opportunity to meet and network with a number of people in legal professions and reach a better understanding of their roles in a rural community. My favorite experience was an afternoon spent shadowing the County Attorney, attending hearings and discussing the rewards and challenges of his position.

Emily Coffey and partner Shelby Riggs checking out the York Community with some Red Beard’s Coffee.

How did your Serviceship impact you?

Through the course of my serviceship, I learned to advocate for myself and my ideas. In other internships, I’ve been assigned duties and projects with minimal autonomy or room for innovation. This experience allowed me to think critically about the projects I was assigned, identify the people I needed to connect with, determine the necessary steps in reaching solutions and take ownership of the project to make it my own. At one point, I faced the challenge of facilitating a discussion with a group of community leaders on a very controversial topic. The advice and support of my RFI mentors and host team empowered me to lead the conversation with confidence. This experience has given me a firm foundation for navigating similar situations in the future.

Furthermore, I really appreciate the “service” component of the serviceship experience. Volunteering in York gave me an additional level of investment in the community and helped me to become more in-tune with their way of life; I became more acutely aware of the importance and impact of active community members who give their time and efforts and are dedicated to the happiness and success of their community. On college campuses there are opportunities to get involved and volunteer everywhere you look; but when you have a full-time job and are new to an area, you have to be much more intentional about service.

 


 

Emily Coffey

Serviceship Ambassador | Rural Futures Institute

Emily Coffey is a senior Political Science student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with minors in Business, Psychology, Communication Studies, and Global Studies. Following graduation, she plans to attend law school and hopes to stay in Nebraska long-term.

 

 


 

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Nebraska Communities—Apply To Host NU Students Throughout Summer 2018

LINCOLN, NEB – September 20, 2017 – Calling all Nebraska communities! The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska (NU) is accepting community applications for 2018 RFI Student Serviceship, a program that places high-capacity NU students throughout the state to work, live and serve. The application deadline is Nov. 20, 2017.

A hybrid between service learning and traditional internships, “serviceships” provide communities with tangible results on important self-defined projects while giving students resume-building work and insight into the career and life opportunities in rural places.

“This program is designed to help motivated communities move critical strategies and projects forward,” said RFI Founding Executive Director Chuck Schroeder. “We select and train some of the University’s most ambitious student leaders—the biggest thinkers, highest achievers and most enthusiastic doers—so rural communities can reach their goals. And, with stellar students and partners, we have accomplished meaningful results.”

Since 2013, 38 NU students have worked and served in 19 Nebraska communities for a total estimated economic impact of $331,590. They have also logged 581 volunteer hours at an estimated impact of $13,688.

The students, who are recruited by RFI from a variety of disciplines at all four NU campuses, complete a rigorous one-week training course with NU faculty and community leaders, preparing them to serve in many roles with entities throughout a community.

Through the application process, rural community host teams articulate their community’s vision and purpose while scoping and defining projects for intern pairs to work on and lead during the 10-week summer internship. Host teams, which include subject-matter experts and leadership mentors, must also identify funding for the students’ stipends, housing, office space and materials. Communities are supported throughout the process by RFI and Nebraska Community Foundation.

“All communities should take advantage of the opportunity,” said 2017 community host team member Madonna Mogul, Executive Director of the York Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s important as communities and business leaders that we work with these young men and women who will eventually be our leaders and our bosses. This program is a way we can work toward retaining young leaders in our state.”

Details and application are available at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/serviceship/.

Create The Future In Rural Nebraska—Apply for RFI Student Serviceship

The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) is seeking highly-motivated University of Nebraska student leaders to help create the future of Nebraska’s rural communities through 2018 RFI Student Serviceship. A hybrid between service learning and traditional internships, “serviceships” provide students with resume-building work and insight into the career and life opportunities in rural places.

During this 10-week paid summer experience students participate in strategic community initiatives, lead priority projects, build their networks and improve their leadership skills while living, working and serving in a rural community. Apply at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/student-serviceship by Nov. 20.

“If you’re a game-changer, innovator or explorer, I encourage you to take this opportunity and run with it,” said RFI Director of Leadership Kayla Schnuelle. “Out of this experience, you will gain many technical skills, and you will also learn what it takes to be a catalyst in a community, which is something that employers in many fields are looking for.”

 

“If you’re a game-changer, innovator or explorer, I encourage you to take this opportunity and run with it. Out of this experience, you will gain many technical skills, and you will also learn what it takes to be a catalyst in a community, which is something that employers in many fields are looking for.”

— Kayla Schnuelle, RFI Director of Leadership

 

Working in pairs, students will attack rural challenges and opportunities in areas such as economic development, workforce recruitment and retention, housing, marketing and more. They will work closely with a community host team and a dedicated mentor to help them with their specific projects and bring them into the life of the community in a meaningful way. They will also be connected to RFI staff and University of Nebraska faculty in order to better serve their communities.

After completing the application, students will be interviewed by Dec. 8. Upon final selection, interns will be matched with rural communities with projects that fit their expertise and interests. All interns are required to complete a one-week RFI Student Serviceship training course with University of Nebraska faculty and community leaders, May 14-18, before they begin their serviceship, May 21-Aug. 1.

“Through the course of my serviceship, I learned to advocate for myself and my ideas,” said senior political science major and 2017 serviceship intern Emily Coffey. “In other internships, I’ve been assigned duties and projects with minimal autonomy or room for innovation. This experience allowed me to think critically about the projects I was assigned, identify the people I needed to connect with, determine the necessary steps in reaching solutions and take ownership of the project to make it my own.”

Get details and apply at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/student-serviceship.

Rural Futures Institute to host panel discussion, tour with rural innovators from Japan

Rural communities in Japan and the United States face similar challenges such as recruitment and retention of young people, decline of primary and local industries, sustainability of natural resources. Similarly, entrepreneurial leaders in both countries are thinking and acting boldly to identify and build on resources to develop creative, strategic solutions.

In partnership with Japan Society, based in New York City, N.Y., and Japan NPO Center, based in Tokyo, the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska will host five Japanese entrepreneurs and community leaders for a panel discussion entitled, “A Thriving Rural Future in Japan and the United States.” This free, public event is 3 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, 1505 S Street. A reception will follow from 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Panelists and guests will explore alternative models, best practices and strategies for creating resilient and vibrant rural communities of the future. Panelists from Japan include:

  • Atsuhisa Emori, Taberu Journal League in Hanamaki, Iwate
  • Kenji Hayashi, FoundingBase in Tsuwano, Shimane
  • Ryoko Sato, Ehime University in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture
  • Tsuyoshi Sekihara, Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club; Joestu, Niigata Prefecture
  • Junichi Tamura, Next Commons Lab in Tono, Iwate Prefecture

The panel will be moderated by Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., RFI Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist, and Japan Society and Japan NPO Center representatives will be present.

This is one of two public forums to be hosted in the U.S. during a two-year funded project received by Japan Society and Japan NPO Center. Through RFI, the University of Nebraska is the only higher education institution from the United States involved.

On Oct. 28 RFI leadership will take the guests to Nebraska City, Neb., to tour the Kimmel Education & Research Center and Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard, and Auburn, Neb., to tour Nemaha County Hospital and visit BCom Solutions and the Rural Impact Hub.

Overall, the project seeks to build leadership capacity and consolidate lessons and learning from efforts to revitalize small towns and rural areas in the U.S.-Japan context. Specific topical areas of exploration include:

  • Economic revitalization and rural entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Leadership opportunities for a younger generations
  • Meeting the needs of the elderly in smaller communities
  • The role of arts and culture in regional revitalization
  • Creating an ecosystem conducive to engaging new community members

Extended guest biographies at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/Japan-US.

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The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska leverages the talents and research-based expertise from across the NU system on behalf of rural communities in Nebraska, the U.S. and around the world. Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, RFI encourages bold and futuristic approaches to address rural issues and opportunities. It works collaboratively with education, business, community, non-profit, government and foundation partners to empower rural communities and their leaders.

ruralfutures.nebraska.edu

@rural_futures | /ruralfutures