Want To Foster Leadership? Start With Volunteering

Want To Foster Leadership? Start With Volunteering

Many of the world’s most powerful leaders could probably use a refresher course in what they’re supposed to be best at – leadership, which largely has to do with engendering confidence in a group effort and getting individuals to take responsibility for their role.


High-powered government officials and well-funded CEOs have attained so much power, resources and privilege that many could learn a few things from successful leaders in less-privileged positions. As a successful volunteer leader and high school soccer coach, I know.


A leader who volunteers time for a charitable cause, for example, can’t afford to fire people who underperform, because eventually there’d be too few volunteers. High school coaches also work with a limited pool of talent. How do some leaders with major limits on resources become successful? Inspiring leadership within the team is how it’s done.


As a soccer coach at a small Catholic high school in West Virginia, I led an unlikely crew of boys to their school’s first state soccer championship game, later winning the state’s AA-A title. In the last six years they have won five (5) State AA-A Championships and were ranked 11th in the country among ALL high schools by Max Preps (Part of CBS Sports).


More importantly, these kids learned leadership within their own lives. It turns out, years later, that one of them wound up as the doctor who successfully treated my wife at the local hospital after a bad car accident.


Volunteer organizations always need help, and a person can move into a leadership position in very little time. Remember, volunteers will leave if a leader is a jerk or they don’t like how things are going.


This is different from employment, where employees are willing to endure plenty of grief in order to keep a pay check. The only way we can pay volunteers is to help them to feel good and important about what they are doing. I believe that a leader who can have success with volunteer organizations can easily lead in corporate America.


There are multiple keys to inspiring leadership within a team, which I discuss in my latest book, “Learned Leadership, Discover 10 Keys to Awakening the Leader Within You.”

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