National Leadership Day on February 20th, to acknowledge the power of leadership and recognize the impact that leaders make in people’s lives as they seek to develop themselves and others. For National Leadership Day, we decided to interview two our Business Excellence Award recipients. We asked, “What makes a good leader?” See what Dr. Gaba, President of Atlantic Cape Community College, and Jeff Dolan, retired Vice President of TD Bank.

Dr. Barbara Gaba – Recipient of the 2023 John G. Fitzpatrick Community Leader

Atlantic Cape Community College President Dr. Barbara Gaba credits everything she knows about leadership to her role model: her mother.

“Everything I learned about leadership I learned from her,” said Dr. Gaba, winner of the 2023 Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce John G. FitzPatrick Community Leader Award.

She was asked to talk about leadership for National Leadership Day, which is observed on Feb. 20 each year. The aim of National Leadership Day is to instill the values of leadership in each one of us.

Dr. Gaba was named president of Atlantic Cape Community College in 2017 after serving as provost and associate vice president for academic affairs at Union County College.

Dr. Gaba knows what it takes to be a good leader, something she’s learned during her  extensive career in higher education.

She started as a teacher before acquiring leadership roles in administration at community colleges throughout New Jersey. She is also a member to many boards and local and national organizations, including Gov. Murphy’s Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group, Atlantic County Economic Alliance (ACEA), Atlantic County Workforce Development Board, , and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges State and Federal Policy Committee, to name a few.

Dr. Gaba says there are four things that make a good leader.

Leadership, for Dr. Gaba, means having a vision of the big picture, staying in touch with the community, having good listening skills, and building a strong team.

“It’s about having a vision and a purpose of where you want the institution to go,” Dr. Gaba said. “That’s very, very important. Our vision (Atlantic Cape) is to be the preferred choice for higher education and workforce development.”

Dr. Gaba said looking at the big picture, staying in touch with many constituencies (students, employers, community partners) and being a good listener also come into play while she was growing as a leader.

“I frequently meet face to face with students, employees, and educational and business partners to stay in touch with what their concerns are,” she said.

“It’s very important to be a good listener too,” she said.

Dr. Gaba recognizes a good leader builds a strong team to lead.

“You have to have a very good team behind you,” she said.

“Leadership jobs are big and you can’t do it by yourself,” Dr. Gaba said. “It’s important to have a strong leadership team and people who share your vision.”

A good leader, Dr. Gaba said, will “have an impact on what they are doing and inspire others to lead.”

“Here at (Atlantic Cape) we make a strong impact on providing students with an affordable, accessible education. It is important to demonstrate commitment to the work to show you have a passion. You need to do your best work all of the time,” Dr. Gaba said.

“A good leader has to pivot when needed,” she said, using the COVID19 pandemic as an example when Atlantic Cape had to go to online learning and then back to in-person instruction later. “We had to think about how to serve students and get them to graduation during COVID. To be a leader, you need to be able to adapt and be quick.”

Above all, she said, “You have to remain positive despite the challenges.”

“Negativity can get you down. I always say never waste a good crisis because of what we can learn from it. Some of the things we learned from COVID we are still doing, like providing enhanced support services for students,” she said.

She reminds us that a good leader demonstrates patience and should not get too emotional or upset. “My staff will tell you I stay cool,” she said.

Dr. Gaba also credits a former college president with whom she worked.

“I was one of her mentees,” she said.

The college president sought to identify potential leaders in a group and taught Dr. Gaba the importance of mentoring them.

“I learned from her the importance of collaboration. Leaders can’t do it alone. It takes a village.”

Jeff Dolan – Recipient of the 2023 Redenia Gilliam-Mosee Business Leader

When retired TD Bank Vice President/Retail Market Manager Jeff Dolan hears the word leadership, he thinks about all the people on his team.

“To be a true leader, it’s not about making it about yourself. It’s always about the team,” said Dolan, the Greater AC Chamber of Commerce winner of the 2023 Redenia Gilliam-Mosee Business Leader award. He will be honored at The Greater Atlantic City Chamber’s Business Excellence Awards on from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 23 at Seaview Hotel in Galloway

Dolan was asked about National Leadership Day, which is observed on Feb. 20 each year. The aim of National Leadership Day is to instill the values of leadership in each one of us.

Dolan said true leadership means motivating a team.

“The results and wins come naturally when you are there to support your team,” Dolan said.

Dolan cited author John C. Maxwell, a New York Times best-selling author who has authored several books on leadership. Among the books, Dolan says “Laws of Leadership” talks about some of the key points of a good leader.

“It talks about how leadership is influence, nothing more or less, and knowing that as a leader, I am influencing and steering the careers of others,” Dolan said.

Dolan says his father was his role model.

“I was one of 8 kids growing up,” he said. “My father was my role model and I can tell you that I have exactly the same work ethic.”

Dolan worked at TD Bank for 23 years as a Retail Market Manager with oversight of 23 stores.

“We call them stores, not branches,” he said.

Changing views about banking helped Dolan be a successful leader.

“One of the key things we did was we no longer went after bankers because we saw banking was retail,” he said. “We needed people to share what we had to offer.”

During his career, Dolan also has been a leader in managing luxury department stores Lord & Taylor and B. Altman and Company.

Dolan has advice for anyone taking on a leadership role.

“Make sure you are self-aware,” Dolan said.

Self-awareness is key, he said, because self-awareness gives you the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions affect others.

“Understanding where you have an opportunity and knowing where you are leading a team is important because all eyes are on you,” he said.

“It’s critical to lead by example,” Dolan said.