2012-08-10 / Columnists

New Kid On The Boardwalk

Y Lessons In Leadership
Commentary By Jack Lund, Arverne By The Sea Y

Aerial shot of the new Y under construction at Beach 73 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Aerial shot of the new Y under construction at Beach 73 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. With the opening of the Rockaways YMCA at Arverne-by-the-Sea now less than a year away, the pools have been poured, more steel is being added each day and the plumbing is being installed. Now it’s time to thinking more and more about the individuals who will be spending the most time at the new Y.

There are of course the community members, the individuals, families, and children who will have a chance to learn, grow, and thrive through participating in the Y’s youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility programs. There are local businesses that stand to gain from new customers and revitalized off-season traffic. But there will also be one man or woman with whom the buck stops—the person charged with ensuring that all of our programs are organized and running smoothly, the person who will serve as a role model to the Rockaways Y staff and members and interface with the YMCA of Greater New York’s Association Office. That person will be the Executive Director of the Rockaways YMCA.

It takes a lot of work to create a flourishing community center from scratch, one that will instantly feel like an integral part of the neighbor hood. That’s why finding a superstar who’s up to the task of leading the Rockaways YMCA is one of my top priorities. In looking for the ideal Executive Director to lead this new branch, we’re seeking someone who can juggle this neighborhood’s diverse needs, set the right tone for his or her colleagues, and envision how our offerings will strengthen the community. Another goal is to make the Rockaways residents feel like part of the larger YMCA family and ensure that the branch offerings are consistent with the standards we’ve set at our Ys throughout the five boroughs.

Leadership isn’t learned in a day. I began my career with the Y 35 years ago as a young, camp counselor in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

At the time, I had no idea I’d become CEO of New York City’s YMCA. Over the years, I’ve been able to experience firsthand the incredible growth of the organization, which now touches the lives of more than 250,000 youth and teens, and nearly 500,000 New Yorkers each year in.

And one of the things I’ve come to realize during that time is that the Y is in the “leaders creation business.”

We would not have been able to make this kind of impact without fantastic teams at each of our branches. During my time at this organization, I’ve learned that workplace culture is just as important as results. A good work environment can motivate employees to go above and beyond their daily responsibilities, inspire good ideas, and create meaning and satisfaction for colleagues.

How does one hire a leader? When interviewing prospective new hires, I turn to my trademarked “Triple-A” philosophy: Aptitude (measuring a person’s smarts and capabilities), Attitude (gauging who the person is and what he/she is proudest of), and Altitude (determining what the person hopes to achieve).

We look forward to announcing the leader of the new Rockaways YMCA at Arverne by the Sea as the building nears completion.

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