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Supporting New Leaders

We've been collaborating with Wendy Jeffries, who recently founded Spark Solutions Consulting, since OutGrowth got its start in 2017. A leader, innovator and motivator, Wendy is someone who you just want to talk to and learn from regularly. We had the pleasure of featuring Wendy in our most recent issue of En Root, and invite you to learn more about Wendy and her perspective on supporting new leaders in our Q+A below. Enjoy!

This month's theme is all about supporting new leaders. Tell us how this theme has played a role in your personal or professional life.

Throughout my career, I've been a "new leader" numerous times. It seems I'm naturally drawn to new initiatives and enjoy the process of establishing them from the ground up. I've spearheaded new programs across various organizations, served as the Founding Executive Director of a nonprofit in Baltimore City for nine years, and currently have my own consulting business. Having navigated the challenges of being a new leader myself, I understand firsthand how daunting and isolating it can feel. My experiences also taught me the importance of dedicating time to skill development, seeking mentorship, and continually challenging one's own perspectives. Drawing from my personal journey, much of my consulting work now revolves around supporting new and interim leaders. My aim is to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary for personal growth and to empower them to be catalysts for positive change within their organizations and communities.

At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe that supporting new leaders can impact the way organizations operate?

A leader is an individual who guides, influences, and motivates others toward the achievement of common goals or objectives. Whether they are new or been around for a long time, leaders are often expected to have all the answers – they do not. Just like anyone else in a key position, leaders need time to learn, reflect, stumble, and build relationships. Creating the space for this is especially hard if you are a new leader. Therefore, I believe it’s critical to support new leaders with time, external support, and grace. This helps to ensure strong leadership for the organization which is a key component of a successful organization. In addition, fostering a culture of 1) mentorship and knowledge sharing, 2) building skills, and 3) providing space for reflection and growth is not just to the benefit of the leader. They are key components of strong organizations.

What is one hard lesson you learned in this past year that contributed to your growth? 

The importance and nuances of leveraging LinkedIn effectively. While not necessarily a "hard" lesson, it has been a crucial one. I've dedicated time to understanding the evolving landscape of the platform and optimizing my approach to drive meaningful engagement. Unexpectedly, I am really enjoying crafting posts – which has reminded me that I enjoy writing and have insights to share.

What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2024 and beyond?

Using AI tools ethically and in ways to streamline processes and support the work for both myself and my clients.

What inspires you?

Being in the natural world/outside, beauty/art, books, my kids.

At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in the next year?

I love talking walks while listening to the Side Hustle Pro with Nicaila Matthews Okome podcast.

What's next? What are you excited about in the coming year?

What's next? I want to make time to read more books! What are you excited about in the coming year? Supporting new Executive Directors as I’ve sat in that seat so I know how important a coach is when you are new to the role.

Wendy is a leader, innovator, and problem solver with 20+ years of experience in education and non-profits. She has a track record of leading diverse teams, developing strong internal systems, facilitating organizational growth, and building inclusive environments with a commitment to racial equity. Wendy is the Founder and Lead Consultant of Spark Solutions Consulting, specializing in capacity building & leadership development for nonprofits and small business.


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