I think in any leadership role the two biggest factors that will help your volunteers is relationship and direction. I say the word “direction” in the context of knowing what you would like them to do; or goal setting, not in a bark out orders type of direction. My name is Jon Cain and I am the Worship Arts Manager at Mountain Park Community Church. During my tenure at Mountain Park, I have led worship in a variety of settings and with a smorgasbord of people. In that time I have learned a tremendous amount about how my words and leadership directly affect my team and our performance.
Managing Volunteer Relationships
Some of the biggest challenges you will face in leadership is proper management of the personalities and egos of your team. Typically in a band setting this is very apparent and obvious. Musicians sometimes have a “look at me” attitude that directly clashes with what you are trying to do. Knowing your team is the best way to combat this. If you know and can anticipate what someones reaction will be when given direction, then you can learn to phrase things a certain way to “soften the blow”. Another way to look at this is trying to speak in their terms. This is a valuable tool that will alleviate so much stress in your leading. A volunteer isn’t going to stay engaged if they feel like they aren’t valued. And they aren’t going to feel valued unless you know who they are and how to talk to them.
Providing Team Direction
Knowing where you are going and how you will get there are the key points in providing direction. I had to learn this the hard way. Weeks of coming to practice unprepared caused so many minor set backs. Rather than learning the song as we practiced it, it was vital that I knew every part of the song, especially the parts I didn’t play. Knowing the parts that you don’t play allows you to see the big picture. Now this is very applicable regardless of if you are a musician or not. If you know the inner workings of your project and have handed off certain aspects of it to others, then you are first, lessening your load and second, you are growing your influence. You will grow. Your team will grow. And you will grow together in the unique roles you have established. Knowing the intricacies of why you do things a certain way will transition your team into something special.
I have been working with Jon for the past 5 years and I have personally had the opportunity to witness his leadership build and invest in the lives of students as well as adults. Jon mentioned that “a volunteer isn’t going to stay engaged if they feel like they aren’t valued.” How do you show value and appreciation to your volunteers so they stay engaged in the mission? – Dave Shrein