Many companies today have created a culture of caring through community volunteerism. Whether raising funds for important research to cure a disease, teaching children how to read or building a home for a family in need, your involvement enhances the company’s visibility as a community leader. Your volunteer efforts benefit you in two ways: You gain valuable experience in leadership, communication and stewardship and your hard work positions you well within the company as a team player and engaged employee.
In my case, everything I learned about leadership I learned through volunteer activities. I learned how to:
- Understand group dynamics by working on committees
- Supervise others
- Delegate work
- Work well with people from diverse backgrounds
- Advance in the organization and accept responsibilities along the way
- Think critically and creativity
- Reach the top of the organization (as board president)
- Inspire and motivate others
- Share a vision with others
- Develop a strategic plan for the future
- Take responsibility for my work
- Read and understand financial information
- Plan and execute large projects
I learned all of these skills as a volunteer. Now, you may ask, “Didn’t you learn anything on the job?” Yes, of course, I did. Yet when it came to leadership skills, I learned them more rapidly through my volunteer commitments. An organization that relies on its volunteers isn’t going to fire its volunteers, so there is nothing stopping you from being your best and brightest. As a volunteer, the sky is the limit!
My experience of managing events as a volunteer committee chairperson came in handy when I had to manage large-scale events in my career. As a volunteer, you can learn and make mistakes. When it comes time for you to use those skills in your job, you will sail through any assignment. Because I experienced being a leader first as a volunteer, it was more valuable to me than reading leadership books. When working with volunteers, understand that they are already self-motivated when they volunteer (they know they are not getting paid for their time or ideas). To keep them motivated, make sure that their talents and skills are being used, not under-used, and recognized. Place them in positions where they can thrive.
What do you want to learn? What cause can you get involved in? The choice is yours. You can use your talents and skills to be in service to a community that needs you.
What volunteer opportunities in the community are being offered by your company that would give you greater responsibility and teach you new skills?
What other volunteer assignments could you introduce your company to, which would elevate your company’s visibility in the community?