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What Volunteering Leadership Experience Brings To Your Business

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Volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to connect with the community and enhance your skills to become a successful leader.

Throughout the course of my career, I have held various leadership roles within a global organisation that develops young adults and empowers people to carryout humanitarian projects in their communities. During this time, I have met and interacted with several successful leaders who have dedicated their time to supporting and improving their community. Their lessons and insights into leadership and communication have helped shape the leader that I am today.

In this article, I will share with you the hidden benefits of volunteering and how individuals with such experience can bring an added value to any organisation.

Ignite Zeal for The Cause
Volunteer leaders have an innate passion for the cause that they believe in, and are driven by zeal. As Steve Jobs states, “The only way to do great work it to love what you do.”
These individuals are go-getters and endeavour to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to them. This is often reflected in the abundance of energy and enthusiasm that they bring to every situation.

As with any part of our lives, volunteering can bring change and uncertainty, resulting in situations that are often out of our control.  A great leader volunteering in the community is always aware of these changes as they continue to work, understanding that such opportunities to lead and directly contribute don’t last forever.

Whilst working in such an environment, I have come across many leaders who have dedicated their entire lives to a single cause. On gaining experience in motivating fellow volunteers, they develop exceptional people and communication skills filled with values of love in action.

Get Things Done
Everything a volunteer organisation has implemented, whether that be an event, marketing campaign or promotion, was once just an idea. Whether it be a bake sale, a competition or a marathon, these events and campaigns are an essential part of any organisation, raising the necessary awareness and funds needed to benefit the community.

A volunteer leader deliberates with the team to strategize the steps necessary to execute the idea. This includes breaking up goals into actionable steps, assessing the skills of team members and assigning appropriate tasks to set the team up for success. They brainstorm, evaluate foreseeable challenges, address concerns, make decisions, and reflect. The leader is visionary and has an entrepreneurial mind-set. They are strategic in their approach, and use lessons from everyday life for the benefit of the organisation or beneficiaries.

Value Their Values
“Our values reflect what is important to us in life. They are often referred to as our personal guiding principles or life goals. While we may have a variety of shorter-term goals that are specific to a situation, like getting a job or a promotion, running a marathon, or visiting Hawaii, our values are life-goals that not specific to any one situation. Values guide our behaviour in all aspects of our life, including our home life, our work life and our social life.” – The Values Project.

Volunteering often challenges this traditional sense of values, as well as how an organisation is run. When leaders are met with resource constraints (which often occurs whilst leading a team, no matter what organisation or business you are in), differences in ideas and perspective are sure to arise. It is up to the leader to get to the bottom of the situation and drive towards a solution.

Volunteer leaders address these challenges with amicable approaches, navigate forward and stay committed to the values that form the basis of the group. Grit and resilience are traits you would commonly observe in volunteer leaders, especially when leading in adversity.

Dive Deep
Volunteer leaders are known to tackle extra-ordinary challenges that appear to be overwhelming.
In such times of adverse situations, leaders use these opportunities to dive deep within their inner resources and draw on energy to take on such challenges. Through this process of mindfulness, they can visualize the end goal, self-motivate, and turn their passion into an example of encouragement and empowerment. They are able to re-focus their mind, establish connections, and engage large groups of enthusiastic people. They are courageous and certainly winners.

Soft Skills
From confidence to authenticity, soft skills also play a key role in leading a volunteering organisation and a leader will be able to utilize these skills to connect with the community and gain the trust of their teams and professional network.

A successful leader will use the volunteering experience to reflect on people development and leadership style, questioning existing functions and brainstorming new ways to approach communication. This might include a campaign, meetings or facilitating new processes to encourage feedback. Volunteering leaders are great listeners and will be able to use this feedback to improve services and analyse the success of events and campaigns.

Networking is an essential part of building a volunteering organisation and will open the doors for new opportunities and contacts. Volunteering leaders are approachable and friendly and are capable of communicating with a wide range of businesses within different sectors to raise awareness of the organisation and to form new relationships that can benefit the community. They will also have or work towards building contacts within the community to gain a better understanding of how they can help make a difference.

In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”

So, let us remember that, although volunteering as a leader is important for improving your communication and leadership style, it is also an opportunity to give back and to serve the people in your community. It is a chance to improve yourself as a person as much as it is about your business and career.

Volunteering will challenge your approach to management and the values that both you and the community hold, providing opportunities to learn and grow. By working to find creative solutions, a volunteer leader will be able to get the job done and create a better life for all.

How are you making a difference for the people in your community? And how has this experience effected your life and those around you?

 Written by
Shivendra Kumar
Shivendra Kumar is a highly regarded leader, known for delivering organizational transformation through innovation and process improvement. With a unique approach and inspirational leadership style that creates a culture of change in businesses, he develops organisational capability needed for both short and long term results. His blogs cover topics related to business improvement, metrics and innovation.