Effective managers are often highly driven professionals. But to be successful at managing volunteers, they need additional qualities. Drive, plus great people skills, equals respect. And respected managers have happier volunteers who accomplish more.
When it comes to handling volunteers, there are several qualities that can help a manager excel. Some people have them, and some don’t. But that doesn’t mean that any professional who finds him or herself in the position of volunteer manager—or aspires to become one—can’t develop these traits as well.
- Confidence tempered with humility: Having confidence is great. Confident people are aware of their capabilities and seem to be able to do most anything. But an overdose of self-confidence can lead to arrogance, unless it’s tempered with some good old-fashioned humility. Remember, nobody’s perfect—not even the most confident manager.
- Owning mistakes: Taking responsibility should be learned at an early age, but not everyone gets it. People respect leaders who take responsibility for their own mistakes, as well as for the failures of the team.
- Passion, plus compassion: It’s wonderful to have passion for your work or your organization’s mission. But don’t forget to remember why you’re there. Demonstrating compassion for those you serve and those who stand beside you serving will lead people to follow you anywhere.
- Problem solving finesse: Great volunteer managers face problems, just like the rest of us. But rather than becoming negative, focusing on assigning blame or sticking their heads in the sand, they buck up and find resolutions. And the very best use their ability to think strategically to find long-lasting solutions, not just quick, temporary fixes.
- Unwavering integrity: Doing what you’ll say you’ll do is the hallmark of a great leader. There is no substitute for it. Failing to do so will lead to a loss of respect faster than just about anything.
No matter where you are in your career, you can work on leadership traits that can help you get where you want to go, and earn the respect of everyone you work with along the way.