July 5, 2010

Managing, or leading volunteers?

Posted in Leading Volunteers at 2:57 am by Sue Hine

New Zealand has just completed Leadership Week for 2010.  I picked up a fancy promotional booklet from a display at my Wellington Library, and also a book on leadership – an Australasian academic publication which led me down various theoretical  and highly intellectual paths.  Though important and interesting in themselves they did not shed any light on the management of volunteers, not for me, anyway.  

In our sector there is, these days, as much discussion on leadership as there is on the principles of managing volunteers.  Most of mainstream research is focussed on the public / private sector of organisational management, change and development.  I keep asking myself  What’s the Diff?  Am I a manager, or a leader?  And is my leadership in the NFP sector different from all those business and corporate hi-flyers?

My initial answer is Both-And, not Either-Or.  Think about it: 

  • Management is about systems and processes, getting the job done at the right time/place/by the best person in accordance with the organisation’s strategic plan and operational policies.
  • Leadership is about stimulating / encouraging / inspiring / facilitating / enabling other people to fulfil a mission, promote a cause – like the organisation’s strategic plan and operational policies.

Where do you fit? 

Not fair to ask this question.  Of course we have to do all the regulatory stuff, follow process, fill in the forms, write reports, compile the statistical data that feeds into funding applications.  But those leadership qualities, that enthusiastic drive, is what gets volunteer feet on the ground and what keeps them there, what makes your organisation keep on keeping on.

I’m going to keep on harping at these questions in future posts, so listen up!


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