Volunteer management is a very busy role. We know this. I hear this all the time. And I experience it firsthand. Do we get so busy though that we renege on the leadership aspect? Is your role an operational function albeit one that indeed may be performed well. Are we managers or are we leaders? Volunteer Management is many things. Does leadership enter the equation? If good management can be learnt can leadership? Or are people born leaders?
A couple of things prompted this blog entry. One is a fantastic program/course I am currently doing on leadership. Of which I hope to write plenty about when I finish. The other is some things I have heard from colleagues in the field.
I have enough anecdotal evidence to convince me that some people come to a sudden stop in their volunteer management journey, pause and begin to ask some pertinent and dare I say existential questions. I know that I have myself. And I consider myself fortunate enough that others have shared similar moments. And it is these – “where do I go from here?” “Where are the advanced and innovative concepts on management in my field now?” “Who is talking about leadership in my field?”
Let me share a tale: 3 colleagues, who shall remain nameless, from different parts of Australia who I feel, were great leaders as well as managers and thinkers: gone from the field within the last 2 years. I should say – lost to the field.
We bemoan the fact (or ignore) sometimes the high turnover in volunteer management. We err in not seeking data on why people have left. As such – an exit survey for our profession is sorely lacking.
Apart from those who have left I hear from some a frustration at the lack of focus on leadership. The lack of dialogue on same. I fear we may be losing some people who feel their leadership potential may be stifled in our industry.
We don’t talk about it which is a shame because I have no doubt that there are numerous leaders out there in volunteer management globally. Some will jump up and down and disagree with what I am saying. Ok – show me where we are defining leadership? Show me where we are nurturing great leadership of the future. Show me where we are engaging great leaders from other sectors to inspire leaders in our own. Which I think is necessary – this cross sector pollination that for some reason we don’t prefer to engage in?
Show me the leadership forums we are on. Tell me about the leadership breakfasts you attend with other leaders?
Show me the panels of leaders at leadership symposiums featuring a volunteer manager? I am not saying all of the above doesn’t exist. I just haven’t seen much of it in my sphere of experience. I would be delighted to learn of this and publicize this.
John C Maxwell had a very interesting take on leadership when he stated “ Leadership is influence – “nothing more, nothing less”. Do we influence? Who do we influence? Do we need to influence to be good leaders?
If we were to ask what ten traits make a good volunteer manager and then what ten traits make a good volunteer leader would we get different answers?
To be continued…