Leadership Skills Gained Through Volunteering

by | 07 January 2020

Corporate social responsibility has swiftly become the norm, no longer the exception. Companies such as Ben & Jerry’s, Google and Salesforce are leaders of the pack when it comes to aligning with relevant causes that give back to local and global communities. In addition to benefiting the communities they serve, incorporating social responsibility makes companies more desirable from a recruiting standpoint, as today’s talent seeks out organizations committed to making positive change.

However, the success of an organization’s corporate social responsibility is due to the sum of its parts. While there may be an overarching goal for a company to be more sustainable, reduce their carbon footprint, adopt a noble cause or give to a specific charity, what the individuals within an organization do on a personal level is equally important. In fact, it can cultivate leadership skills, allowing companies and their employees to reap many positive benefits.

Volunteering builds valuable leadership skills through the act of serving others. When an individual — who is used to running a team, building organizational strategy, running meetings and delivering results — steps out of their norm, they have the ability to shift their focus.  No longer focusing on running their department or climbing the ladder, they are focused on supporting initiatives or projects in a different capacity, which challenges them and teaches leadership skills they may not otherwise get in corporate America.

Amplified networking

Through volunteering, your network is expanded organically. Partnering with others from various industries and career stages changes the dynamic of the typical work circle and can even increase creativity and introduce new ways of doing things. Moreover, this collaboration encourages partnerships between those who normally may not work together, bridging communication and breaking through barriers.

Improved time management

While it may sound paradoxical, those who volunteer feel like they have more time.  Referred to as time affluence, those who find a social connection, feel they actually have more time in the day and are more relaxed about their time than those who don’t. They also have a positive outlook on their future. While still performing a duty, community involvement lacks the career stressors. It is the opposite of work stress — doing good helps make you feel good. Additionally, it can reinvigorate employees helping them with efficiency and productivity by working to solve new types of problems.

Increased creativity

Those who volunteer don’t have traditional compensation and organizational authority as tools to keep teams productive, yet they still have to set objectives, develop strategies and motivate team members. Therefore, they must use their persuasive skills and learn ways to be creative to stay on task. Benefits of creativity in the workplace include better teamwork, increased engagement and interaction, an uptick in staff morale and improved ability to retain and attract talent.

Leading by example may be the greatest benefit to leaders who get involved in the community.  In addition to the aforementioned benefits, those who make the time to meaningfully give back also learn valuable mentorship skills and inspire those around them. These are not skills that can be taught, but rather gained through experience.

About the Author:

Tory Glossip is a Managing Director of Colliers Real Estate Management Services in Seattle. She runs a team of dedicated, expert management professionals and believes that good talent comes from those who have a genuine interest in improving their management skills and a thirst for evolving and improving their performance.