Volunteering is at the core of being a human. No one has made it through life without someones else’s help. – Heather Henry
The above quote by Heather Henry is true to every word. Humankind is witness to selfless acts of kindness either by individuals, leaders, or groups of people who come forward to assist people in need. It is people uplifting people and volunteering for the betterment of others.
We all know what ‘volunteer’ means, but here is a short and sweet definition, it means a person who voluntarily offers selfless service or undertaking. However, some organizations provide volunteer services at nominal charges. Volunteers get paid for their services, but dedicated volunteers focus on rendering service than on the money. They devote their time as a volunteer as it helps them make new friends, expand their network, and boost their social skills. One of the benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Unpaid or selfless volunteers are the glue that holds a community together. Volunteering allows them to connect with the community and make it a better place.
The benefits of volunteering are more than many here are a few of them.
The essence of volunteering — helping others kindles happiness. A study suggests the deep relation between volunteering and satisfaction. The study found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Globally, several people started as volunteers, and on their leadership journey, they went on to become inspiring leaders. If we look at some of the current political leaders in India, most started their journey by serving people, serving the nation. The foundation of their leadership was and is in volunteering.
You might question how volunteering can help in the leadership journey? The question is quite valid, and you, as a budding leader, can bank on volunteering in your leadership journey. The role of volunteering will help maximise your impact and sharpen your leadership skills.
Volunteering in an industry or professional organisation provides an opportunity to develop your leadership skills in several ways. You can gain different perspectives, build relationships, and master new skills, including those you may not have the time for or the opportunity to work on them.
We know which elements make an individual a leader. A leader is a storehouse of skills, planning projects, managing time, motivating others, connecting people, building networks, mentoring people, promoting teamwork & partnership, giving feedback and building teams.
Termed soft skills are more important than experience or university degrees that define successful leaders. In addition, volunteering develops and improves the above skills and other critical business skills, such as problem-solving, coaching and communicating effectively.
You are on a journey to convert your personality from an amateur leader to an expert, experienced leader. It’s challenging but rewarding. Here are volunteering tips to help transform your leadership journey into a replicable one.
Grow people skills:
While working with people from diverse backgrounds, you will develop interpersonal skills. In a professional environment, the ability to interact with others is crucial to advancement. Through volunteering, you will learn how to handle different types of people and different situations. You will discover the value of diversity, strong communication, mutual respect, shared planning, cooperation and working towards common goals.
Additionally, in the volunteer’s role, you can interact with people at multiple levels of the organisation. You may be on par with people from all levels of the organisation, for example, the president or a new member of the organisation. Such interactions allow you to know how to work with and communicate with multiple levels of an organisation.
Volunteering, Leadership, and Confidence are closely knit elements. Or we can say, the foundation of sound volunteering and excellent leadership lies in confidence. Through volunteering, you have an opportunity to try new challenges without the fear of financial or career consequences. Learning new skills in a supportive, low-consequence environment will help you expand your skills and gain confidence. Once you gain experience tackling new challenges, you will be confident enough when enduring testing times at work.
Learn and improve planning skills:
Learning and improving are constant partners of volunteering leaders. So, it is necessary to treat them as your right and left arms. As a volunteer, you learn to plan effective meetings, organise events and coordinate with other volunteers. Planning will help you learn how to set goals, define actions, and track results. The best part, these planning and organisation skills are accessible to you throughout your career.
Improve time management:
Time management is a critical element for a growing career for an independent volunteer or an influential leader. Volunteering pushes you to learn to juggle work, family, and volunteering priorities to maintain a reasonable balance. Volunteering leadership in a professional association can help the career, but it requires active involvement, making sensible commitments, and prioritising meeting them. Time management teaches the value of splitting tasks into manageable pieces and getting the essential work done on time.
Expand mentoring skills:
A newbie volunteer or a leader may not have the knack for mentoring/coaching others. But gradual progress in the area of work, the person can adopt, develop, and expand mentoring skills. Further, most volunteers rely on others to share information or updates. As you change roles within an organisation, you will get the opportunity to mentor new members who assume your previous position. Through this, you have the chance to mentor new members and learn how to advise others.
Enhance communication skills:
Yet another vital component in your leadership journey. You need to have the skill of clear, concise and organised communication. Volunteer activities typically require you to communicate what you are doing and persuade others to assist your cause. You can enhance your communication skills while you volunteer for your cause.
Immerse yourself in other cultures:
Knowing, respecting, and adopting other cultures is a sign of a great leader. Volunteering builds leadership skills, and it provides you with an opportunity to immerse yourself in the day-to-day way of life of the people in the area you volunteer. You learn what works and what does not and then adapt to it. You will also meet other volunteers who have and follow different cultures. The process challenges you to think as a person, and it opens your mind and helps you learn to communicate with distinct people, which will help you in your leadership expedition.
Promote teamwork and partnership:
The moment you choose to work as a volunteer, you automatically put yourself in a situation where you will be working as part of a team. Here, you learn to collaborate with everyone to make the project a success. The process helps you break barriers that might exist between you and others that possibly could bring hindrance to success or solutions. While working in a team, you develop leadership skills and associate with different people to achieve a common goal.
While you cruise on your leadership journey, we are sure you will benefit from the above points and encourage you to continue participating in volunteering activities.