Charlie Brown is watching TV, and Lucy walks into the room and changes the channel to something she wants to watch. Charlie speaks up and says to Lucy, “Why do you get to watch what you want?” Lucy answers with her one hand going from a spread fingered position into a tight fist as she says, “These five fingers… individually, they’re nothing. But when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold!”
Charlie Brown walks away talking to his fingers as he asks them, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”
Charlie Brown’s question is often one of the opening stories of my keynote because his question hits the core element of volunteer leadership – the focused power of individuals. Today’s volunteers are a New Breed of volunteers who have been trained in the workplace to function in self-organized teams. They are independent knowledge workers who don’t want to be managed. They want to be empowered.
How do we take these passionate New Breed Volunteers and mobilize them into a powerful high-performance team that can change the world? Or I’d be happy if we could just change our small community of needs.
It’s all about coaching. I love etymology—the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. Do you know the etymology of the word “coach?” The very first use of the word “coach” in English occurred in the 1500’s to refer to a particular kind of carriage. (It still does.) The technical root meaning of the verb “to coach” is “to convey a valued person from where he or she was to where he or she wanted to be.” Enough of the technical, let’s get practical. My version of the etymology of “coach” is that when the inventors of words, whoever they are, were looking for a word to describe the role of those leaders who recruit and manage a sports team, they imagined the picture of a stage coach. They pictured the team leader putting a team together of passionate athletes who didn’t even know each other into a stage coach and moving them from independent individuals to a new location of a high performance team standing in the winner’s circle. And that journey of passion is a four step process.
The New Breed of Volunteers are passionate, and our role as leaders is four fold:
- Awaken that passion for my mission—my cause— with effective marketing. Marketing is not recruiting. Marketing only awakens the passion of the prospective volunteers so that they think, “I could do that!” But they don’t. And that’s O.K. because it is just marketing—not sales.
- Channel that passion to a specific volunteer role by framing our recruiting message carefully to the New Breed mind set. Recruiting is sales. Recruiting is asking, and the New Breed of volunteers do not raise their hands. They want be asked.
- Sustain that passion for long-term volunteer commitment and dependability by creating a volunteer culture that stimulates the inner motivation of the New Breed volunteer.
- Unleash that passion by empowering teams and leaders to make it happen. This is where coaching is different than management. The 20th century old guard says, “tell me what to do and how to do it.” The New Breed volunteer says, “Give me my objectives and get out of my way.”
How do I awaking the passion, channel the passion, sustain the passion and finally unleash all the passion of the New Breed of volunteer? Not only is it the topic of The New Breed, but it will be the topic of my opening keynote and follow-up workshop on May 13 in Minneapolis at the “Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration” conference, “The Ripple Effect—Changing the World Through Effective Volunteer Engagement.”
In the keynote and workshop I will demonstrate be best practices to awaken, channel, sustain an unleash all that passion—how to be a New Breed Leader for the New Breed Volunteer.
I hope to see you there. If you cannot come, I’d love to come to your area and show you how to engage a whole new breed of volunteer who will help you change the world.