I have volunteered and led volunteers. After several years of experience being around volunteer workers I believe the true test of leadership is the ability to successfully lead volunteers. While this is true I think many CEO’s, executives, and managers would have a hard time leading volunteers, if not fail completely. This is because it requires pure influence to lead volunteers and not power or authority.
Volunteers freely put their time and energy into helping a cause. They are free to stop volunteering at any time without fear of losing their wellbeing (Money, job, security, etc.) They can chose to follow the leader or not. This is why I believe that if you can lead volunteers well then you can lead anyone. When it comes to influencing volunteer workers, people need to frequently hear these words from their leader:
Your valuable- The people who volunteer need to know they are valuable and what they are doing counts. If people know they are valued they will in turn show value toward the cause.
I believe in you- This words shows people you care and matter. It gives people confidence and courage to get outside of their comfort zone while volunteering.
Thank you-This word must be on the tip of every leader’s tongue. Thanking people for their time, effort, and for volunteering is so important. It’s wise to remember that a leader can’t over thank a volunteer worker. Thanking can be done verbally, in writing, by providing resources, or through gifts.
You make a difference-This shows that an individual or team effort is accomplishing something of great. Volunteering is all about making a difference in society and people need to know they are playing a role in causing that difference.
I appreciative your time-I know when I volunteer I consider these words valuable. This is because the leader has recognized that I took the time out of my busy schedule to volunteer. It shows my time and talents matter.
What do you think-This shows volunteers their ideas and thoughts matter. These words allow problems to be solved and the organization to become better.
Questions: What other essential words should a leader speak to their volunteers? Have you spoken these words to your volunteers or have you had these words spoken to you?