As business owners, we’re all looking to expand not only our personal and professional networks; one way to do that is by joining a volunteer organization.
But an often-overlooked benefit is that it’s also an opportunity to grow your leadership skills. When you join an organization, your first significant involvement is likely to be serving on a committee. In the committee setting, you strengthen skills like listening, reading the values and emotional current of the group, developing awareness of the different personalities involved, and communicating tactfully within the group based on the information you’ve taken in.
As you move on to chairing a committee, you develop additional skills.
Organizing meetings, facilitating productive discussions, and gaining group buy-in are essential to moving the group forward. At the highest level, you may eventually take a position as leader of the organization or a director on the board. In addition to the skills used at previous levels, you gain experience in crafting a vision, aligning people toward that vision, and championing execution of the steps needed to achieve it.
I currently serve on the board of the Alliance of Professional Women. Though primarily known as a networking group, its purposes go far deeper, offering high-level discussions of current affairs, professional development education, and opportunities to promote the health and welfare of underserved women in our community. It’s been a rich experience.
Whatever your area of interest, take advantage of the professional development opportunities that come with joining a volunteer or non-profit organization. Not only will you be doing meaningful work and growing your network, you’ll be developing skills that benefit your career as well.