Welcome back to those who are following the "Leadership: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way" series that are posted on Sundays. For you new readers, Welcome! Feel free to check out the other posts in this series. The information will greatly enhance your leadership knowledge.
This session will focus on leadership as a volunteer. This particular role has always been a difficult one to master. The reason for this is simple: the leverage of the leader is based solely on respect and perceived power. As the leader of a volunteer organization, you can see members simply walk away if the smallest slight displeases them, especially in the Age of the Millennial.
So how do you lead people that believe in the same ideas, mission, and set goals stated by the group or organization? It won't be the money, because there isn't any. In fact, if you hear of a volunteer organization that pays its members, please let me know so I can write about such an interesting oxymoron.
There is an enormous breadth of possible organizations one can belong to, both as a leader and follower. Thus, there are dozens of variables that need to be calculated. Thankfully for you all, I've done some grunt work and condensed it into 5 common points because everyone loves a list! Reminder that these helpful tips come from a volunteer leader standpoint.
1. Use SMART goals to lead your followers. They joined in the first place right? All you have to do is align their energy and idealism with concrete plans and willingness to accept blame and give credit. SMART is a helpful acronym that stands for a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
2. Clearly state your objectives and like-minded people will follow suit. If no one follows, you have not personalized your message.
Example A: Let's support the troops! Sounds good right? Until nobody shows up and the food/drink for 200 people has to be thrown away and returned.
Example B: Let's show support for the military personnel in our area by meeting next month on Saturday morning at the town's Veterans' Center. I, (the leader) will have coordinated with the Veterans' Center to provide support for the Veterans to sell chili and soft drinks for their fundraiser while inviting family and friends to participate. The dress code will be red, white and blue colored clothing and the event will last from 11:00am-3:00pm.
The first example shows an idea with no follow-through. The second example shows that the idea has follow through.
3. Accept the fact that members will volunteer for positions they are definitely not qualified to work in. Such as a person that struggles with debt being placed as the Treasurer of the Organization. This takes interpersonal tact to work around and ensure your team and goals are not harmed. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and part of your job is finding them. The hopeful treasurer may be skilled at being a mid-level manager for you, cold calling and getting more volunteers due to an extroverted personality.
4. Funding will always be an issue. Take this point seriously and consider nesting goals inside that inescapable fact. As the leader, people will look to you to make money to turn the wheels that are the organizational goals. There is a multitude of ways of fundraising, but taper these to your objectives. If nobody in the group knows how to bake well, then don't hold a bake sale. It is really that simple. Brainstorm with your group, mentors and those that came before you and determine what a SMART goal to make, invest and spend money would be.
5. Finally, the last point of the day is Don't lose sight of why you joined. As a volunteer leader, it stands to reason that you are a volunteer yourself. Use that drive that made you want to lead the group and let confidence shine like a beacon of hope for your followers. They want to be led, so show them why it will be you doing the leading.
To recap on Lesson 3, we talked about five common tips to use when leading a volunteer organization.
1. Use SMART Goals to lead your followers.
2. Clearly state your objectives so like-minded people will follow you.
3. Accept the fact that people will volunteer for roles that they are not qualified for.
4. Funding will always be an issue.
5. Finally, Don't lose sight of why you personally joined the organization.
Thank you for joining the pursuit of leadership and keep a look out for weekly installments of Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.