How volunteers can influence the future of leadership development
Posted on December 19, 2016
John Sennett is a volunteering spokesperson who runs the blog John's Road to Volunteering. He uses his experiences to influence change, motivate social action and to challenge strategy for leadership development.
Who? What? When? How? Why?
These are the five questions I think about regularly when it comes to understanding the greater need of volunteer influence on infrastructure and development in the so called ‘hierarchy’ many charities take prime views on. When asked to read through Clore Social’s recent ‘Facing the future’ report, I wanted to put forward my personal outlook on the findings and thoughts.
I’m a 90’s baby, classed within the report as a millennial from the collaborative era. This led me to question what happened beforehand. Before the digital age became the norm, how did charities collaborate?
Many would think such information is irrelevant to those of my age and to the future, but until we identify the need for mindset alternations, and identify what happened previously, it is hard to know how to face the future to ensure our sector is secure. Social media and other forms of digital platforms are now playing a significant role in amplifying a charity’s voice, and when I come to look at ‘the future of leadership development’, how can we move forward if we haven’t fully grasped what’s happening now?
Are we missing something when we’re looking at future trends? Are we taking into consideration that current leadership might not be as effective as we think?
Look at the Millennial outlook of ‘we’. ‘We’ is the perfect example of identifying the need for greater collaboration among third sector parties. Collaboration teaches us that within the meaning of charity, there’s ‘giving’.
Millennials are the ‘giving’ age. Identifying gaps in the sector or looking at it deeper within each individual charity is becoming the norm for the next generation. The term ‘leap of faith’ will be used more with the need for charities to collaborate with their volunteers. Working with volunteers in reaching more beneficiaries can be a simple process. How can we collaborate with each other to develop the next-generation of leaders for the sector? It’s that word again ‘giving’. Giving volunteers the opportunity to pitch in their ideas is just one step to collaboration.
What happens after the pitch? We can collaborate in the sector and give each other a platform to voice our views, but does that create a tool to develop new leaders? Influencing those with spoken word is a form of leadership, and training is another. Do we provide volunteers with the opportunity to pitch their ideas? We should listen to volunteers and understand their needs and wants, and in turn translate this into action for the benefit of the sector.
I’m a firm believer in internal education. By this, I mean learning from others within the organisation. This could be staff or in this specific piece, volunteers. Rather than looking instantaneously to collaborate externally, start internally. Let volunteers be a form of internal training. ‘Giving’ volunteers the opportunity to teach and educate is a basic example of leadership development.
I might be missing the point, or the sector might be missing the point with the advantages of collaboration, especially with volunteers, but what I do know is that there are boundless opportunities to develop the sector. We need to stop looking at ourselves as individuals and take the ‘we’ approach.
Once we consider growth to be integral for everyone involved, we’ll then be able to identify strategic approaches to form long-lasting collaborations.
Isn’t this what the sector is about? Helping others?
It’s time to take the sector forward and I believe that by investing in volunteers’ development and utilising their skills, they’ll have an integral role to play in the future of our sector.
Feel free to comment below or you can contact John on Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnRdToVol
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