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7 Questions on Leadership with Orletta Caldwell

Name: Orletta Caldwell

Title: Executive Director and Owner

Oranisation: Michigan Council of Women in Technology & The Urban Nonprofit

Orletta Caldwell, Ph.D., is an exceptionally qualified educator and nonprofit management specialist.

With over 30 years of professional administrative and leadership experience, Dr. Caldwell is an efficiency expert and highly skilled in capacity building by maximizing underutilized resources.

Her distinguished career includes Executive Director of Camp Baber, Assistant Professor, Athletic Director at Grand Rapids Community College, and Program Manager for Tech Soup. In April 2023, Dr. Caldwell joined the Michigan Council of Women In Technology as their Executive Director.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Orletta's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

One of the biggest challenges for leaders is guiding individuals through the necessary steps to achieve their stated goals. As a nonprofit leader, this task becomes even more difficult when dealing with stakeholders who lack a clear understanding of the organization's mission.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey of serving others began with a simple desire within me. I willingly stepped up, offered my assistance, and eagerly took on responsibilities, even when I didn't feel fully qualified. As time passed, I noticed that others began to rely on me for guidance and direction.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Through my experience as a Mary Kay Consultant, I discovered the power of prioritizing the six most important tasks that I want to accomplish. This simple technique provides me with a clear roadmap for the day ahead. Additionally, I make it a point to review my calendar, ensuring I have a comprehensive understanding of my commitments and goals for the day. To set the tone for success, I start my mornings by visualizing what I want to achieve throughout the day. In the evenings, I make sure to let go of any negative thoughts or stressors, allowing for a restful sleep.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Leaders do not have to know everything. If you have a good team (which I do), allow them to excel at what they do. It will pay off to leverage your own time and gain great results. Their ideas and approaches will astound you if you let them at it.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The impact of "Think and Grow Rich" has stayed with me ever since I first encountered it during my high school years. This timeless book continues to impart meaningful lessons, particularly in shaping my thinking patterns and cultivating a positive mindset.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Within you lies all the necessary ingredients to become an exceptional leader. Similar to a cake recipe, you already possess the essential qualities; all you need is to understand the recipe and acknowledge your greatness in the present moment.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

During my college years, I held the position of President of my church youth group. On one occasion, I attended a funeral at a sister church for a member I didn't personally know, representing my role as President. A few days later, while studying at the public library, a young girl of about seven approached me and exclaimed, "I know you! You were at my church for a funeral." Although I smiled outwardly, inwardly I felt a sense of horror, grateful that I hadn't been engaged in any inappropriate behavior before she approached me. This encounter served as a powerful reminder that as a leader, you never truly know who is observing your actions.

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