Leading a team requires more than just a title and a good idea. And leading volunteers? That’s an entirely different animal.
Leadership comes with a cost and when we’re leading volunteers, it requires us to be our best. Our volunteers have their own jobs – they’re giving their time because they care about the mission we’re on. They don’t need drama, they need leaders who are going to encourage them. As leaders of volunteers, we have to remember we’re representing not just ourselves but our organizations and all they stand for. We have to treat our volunteers and their time with a lot of respect. Here are a few things to remember when leading volunteers:
- Be thankful for what they can do. They don’t have to do it, so be grateful for them. They are giving time, energy, resource, and value to our organization. Never take that for granted.
- Create clear expectations. Don’t let them wonder what the win might be. Clarity of expectations allows everyone to have a great experience.
- Remember as a leader you have the inability to give up. As a leader, it’s important to know when to stop, but it’s never permissible to give up.
- As a leader, you set the tone. Setting the tone requires us to avoid the fray and stay above the emotion. Our tone will determine the pace, attitude, and engagement of our team.
- Leaders can’t give in to our feelings. Leaders understand the power of responding and avoid the temptation to react. Passion is vital to success, but ill-advised emotion can cost our teams so much.
- Influence requires investment. Sometimes you won’t want to have the conversation. Do it anyway. Sometimes the price to be paid for a project is going to be massive. You have to pay it. Invest in people. Care about them and what they care about. Send a text. Drop them a note. Shoot them an email. Make a phone call.
- Being a leader requires us to listen more than we speak. And when we speak, we must speak with vision. Vision is contagious so share it as often as possible. And no matter what, always avoid the temptation to dip into conversations that are not constructive or healthy. You are a leader, live above the fray.
How do you lead volunteers?