Some of my most powerful leadership lessons have come from my community service experiences. I really believe that community service – whether it is serving on a board, volunteering at a local nonprofit, coaching a sports team, being part of a community action coalition or showing up to staff your hometown food kitchen is a powerful playing field for developing leadership “muscle memory”.
The opportunities for gaining lessons such as influencing without direct authority, negotiating for limited resources or doing more with less, delegating, shaping organizational culture, mobilizing people around a clear and compelling vision…the list goes on. You get the idea. At work, we feel real pressure to perform in our leadership roles, formal or informal. The risks/stakes may seem higher – and so is our accompanying fear of failure or sense of vulnerability. So if you want make a difference for your community while at the same time flexing new leadership muscles, consider choosing roles or volunteer activities that will help you practice aspects of your leadership skill set that you want to intentionally grow or develop. Think of it as a way to learn in new contexts and without the same pressures you have at work. Try it..and see what happens.