Sunday, November 9, 2014

Getting Shit Done in Volunteer Management while thinking big and having fun!

Tonight I sat down at this computer and I looked at my list on what I would write about Volunteer Management. I have already identified topics that I will write about but after picking one and then looking at another I thought many random thoughts. I’ve often talked about the need for Effective Volunteer management but haven’t expanded on what that means

And recently I came across a short but wonderful article from Jeff Weiner who is the CEO at LinkedIn. It had such an impact on me that I shared it in my volunteers newsletter and I have the three statement mantras now on a big whiteboard in my office.

"Several weeks ago, I shared the above Venn diagram in a status update. With 20k+ likes and comments on LinkedIn and over 2.2k retweets and favorites on Twitter, it's become the most viral update I've shared to date. As a result, thought it might be interesting to provide some additional context on where the diagram came from.
It all started in a meeting where a talented team was presenting their plan for a potentially high impact initiative. Midway through, they covered the measurable results they expected to achieve in three years. Granted, they were being somewhat conservative, but their objectives were still way off what I would have expected them to be targeting based on the addressable opportunity and the assets we were bringing to the table.
Without hesitation, I challenged the team to increase their long-term goal by roughly 20x. Regardless of whether or not they could hit the target (which I think they can), the point was to get them thinking much bigger, without constraints, and to start by asking the question, "What would it take...?"
Dream Big
Oftentimes, my favorite exchanges are with people who are naturally predisposed to think at truly massive scale and without limitations. When well reasoned, that kind of vision can be highly inspirational, change the way teams solve for a specific opportunity or challenge, and ultimately, transform the trajectory of a company. During this particular meeting, I ended up writing down two simple words to capture this quality: "Dream big," with the intention of cascading the theme more broadly.
Get Shit Done
Almost immediately after seeing those words in writing, I realized the message was incomplete. The team leading the discussion that day may have been conservative in their approach to articulating what was possible, but they were also highly capable and credible -- and had a proven track record of delivering results. Demanding excellence is an important value for us. It's something I would never want taken for granted or crowded out by the singular objective of thinking at scale. Asking people to dream big without delivering on the vision was not only an incomplete sentiment; it could carry the unintended consequence of producing pie-in-the-sky thinking without anything to show for it.
If a goal is truly visionary, it's going to be confronted by doubters, skeptics, and those threatened by its realization. As a result, there will always be walls put up on the way to achieving the objective. Some of the most capable people I've worked with know how to go over, around, or straight through those walls by virtue of their resourcefulness and sheer force of will. In other words, they just "get shit done."
I added those three words to my notes, drew overlapping circles around "Get shit done" and "Dream big", and thought about how invaluable it is to work with people at the intersection of the two.
Know How to Have Fun
It then occurred to me that I've known a number of people who embodied the ability to dream big and get shit done, but who also proved very difficult to work with. Perhaps shielded by the immense value they brought to their respective organizations, they never cultivated the ability to manage compassionately, or even cared to. Rather, they did things their way and expected everyone around them to adapt accordingly. More often than not, that's exactly what people did.
While this has clearly proven to work at some now legendary companies, it's not an easily scalable or reproducible model, it's not necessary, and in my opinion, it's not fun (I say in my opinion because there are those who will argue that winning is fun, regardless of the means employed).
I've reached a point in my career where I want to be surrounded by people who not only share a vision, but a genuine commitment to upholding their company's culture and values. They are team players, don't take themselves too seriously, and "know how to have fun." And with that, I added a third circle to the Venn diagram.
At the nexus of these three circles are the people I most enjoy working with. I'm extraordinarily grateful to have the opportunity to do that every day.”

Wow! Talk about a short article having an impact on me and one which I think every Volunteer Manager should read. I am extraordinarily grateful to work with a Volunteer team every day of the week that embodies these sentiments and I really believe these are the teams we need within organizations.

Dream Big

 I manage a team based on feedback and consultation. Yes I direct when necessary but I want everything I do to be a vision of the team as a whole. And we Dream Big! Volunteers have often given me the idea behind an innovative program.

We Get Shit Done

If my team say they are going to do something..They do something! Usually it is something amazing. I have the best Can Do Team in Australia.

Know How to Have Fun

If you are a Volunteer manager who doesn't know how to have fun then you are behind the eight ball before you begin. Stop taking yourself so seriously. You are leading a team that want to give of their time and that are often involved in serious matters but would appreciate a bit of fun in turn for their commitment.

I have great fun each day with my team. They know my humour and give it back to me in spades. But it’s appropriate humour and it demonstrates not only camaraderie but respect too. Fun is so underestimated in our profession.

Try putting these Mantras on your whiteboard. Forget the past. It’s no longer there. Don’t worry about a future that is yet to happen and manage your teams in the beautiful Here and Now. Try it! Let go a little and loosen up! 

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour but without folly.” – Jim Rohn

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