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The Journey to Leadership

By Jillian Scholl posted 02-25-2022 10:06


“I believe you can be born to lead, or you can learn to lead. Either way, sometimes the journey to becoming a successful leader is not always linear.”

A Born Leader

I can remember back to as early as pre-school when I would take charge during playdates and decide what we were going to play, who would be doing what, and how they would be doing it. I loved to play “school” but was always the teacher and never the student. I guess you could say I was a bit “strong-willed” or “bossy.” I would say I had great leadership skills!

As I grew up, my leadership skills grew as well. I took it upon myself to find opportunities to volunteer, help grade papers, audition for a solo in the choir performance, anything I could find that would help me express myself. Teenage years were tough, though. I found myself lost and confused because I never really “fit in” in any one place, probably because I wanted to be everywhere!

It wasn’t until much later I would realize that my individuality is what made me special — what made me different — what makes me a strong leader. I looked for ways to stand out in the crowd. Go above and beyond what was expected. Confidence has been an integral part of my developing leadership skills.

A Leader at Home

As a little girl, I dreamt of being a stay-at-home mom, just as my mom was for me. I was lucky enough to be just that for six VERY LONG YEARS…just kidding (kind of!) Honestly, being the leader in my home during those years will forever be my greatest accomplishment. However, I knew that my journey wouldn’t end there. Going to work and finding a career that would help me continue to flourish personally and professionally was very important to me. Let’s be honest. I will always be the “leader” at home!

Learning From Others

My journey has led me to learn from other leaders I have met along the way. A great leader appreciates learning from others, being humble and valuing those you are leading. Be the person that gives words of encouragement, guides, listens, empathizes, cares and makes a difference. I appreciate every interaction, every conversation, and will always accept advice that could help me grow.

Be the person that gives words of encouragement, guides, listens, empathizes, cares and makes a difference”

An Indirect Path to Reaching My Potential

I am proud of my journey. The indirect path I have taken to ultimately help me reach my goals. In a truly rewarding career that helps me grow personally and professionally. I am grateful to work with people who care, appreciate and value me.

One of the best things I have done in this career was to become involved in Illinois ASBO. The old saying “you get out of it what you put into it” comes to mind. I remember when I first joined a PDC, walking into a room filled with school business officials, not knowing anyone and being quite intimidated. However, I could not have asked for a more inviting, friendly and welcoming group of individuals, professionals and strong leaders.

In true “Jillian” fashion, I had ideas and opinions, which led to someone suggesting I participate as a speaker in an upcoming presentation. My stomach dropped, and, in that moment, I lost my confidence. I wasn’t ready; I would be so nervous; what value could I bring amongst the other successful and knowledgeable professionals I would be speaking with? Of course, I agreed and instantly regretted it — until I remembered what was truly important. It wasn’t as important how much I knew about the topic; It was about seeing the importance in the experience — finding what value I could offer based on my knowledge. I then saw this as an opportunity for growth, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, which could help me ultimately reach my true potential.

I have sought out every opportunity to learn, grow and connect. I attend conferences, regional meetings, golf outings, leadership development training and soon will be attending the Leadership Institute.

I was honored and grateful to be elected to SAAC last year and have the chance to serve the organization and represent my fellow service associates.  

One of the best things I have done in this career was to become involved in Illinois ASBO. The old saying 'you get out of it what you put into it' comes to mind.”

Embracing the Journey

I believe the driving force behind my success thus far in my life and career is the undeniable desire to build strong, meaningful connections with pure intentions. I truly thrive from it. I value learning from others even if we don’t share the same point of view.

I look forward to gaining knowledge through experience and always look for the next opportunity to grow. “The path isn’t always clear; enjoy the journey, and eventually, you find your way.”

By Jillian M. Scholl
Dir./ Business Development
ARCON Associates, Inc.

If you have a topic you would like to share on the Leadership Center Blog, please contact Stacia Freeman at sfreeman@iasbo.org.