I’ve always found that one of the best places to develop leadership skills (particularly early in your career) is in the practice of volunteerism and community service. If you want to learn if you can lead, raise your hand to lead a group of volunteers to accomplish an important task. I was fortunate to find these kinds of opportunities early in my life and here’s a few of the things I learned.
- You aren’t a leader if people are paid or otherwise required to follow you. You are a leader when people choose to follow you.
- It’s amazing how much energy people will invest into their work when their heart goes into it first.
- One leader with a compelling vision can make an enormous impact.
- People are looking to sign up for a crusade. They want to make a difference, a leader shows them how.
- Volunteers are forgiving about poor leadership skills as long as you have a compelling cause and you aren’t an a-hole.
- Volunteers give you immediate feedback on your leadership style by voting with their feet. If you aren’t leading, they stop showing up.