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The Volunteer Leader's NEW Mantra

If you are a volunteer leader, practice saying this: "That's a great idea! Would you be willing to be in charge of that?"

If you have been a volunteer at any point in your life, you have probably been the receptacle of a wealth of good ideas from well-meaning parents, church-goers, club members, enthusiastic supporters, etc.

Most of the ideas that I have been given in my career as a volunteer leader have been excellent ideas and for many years, I felt burdened by the responsibility of executing all good ideas given to me.

These great ideas might be delivered in a way that sounds something like this: "Have you ever thought of...?" or "You all ought to...." "We need to do more of...." "Have you ever tried...?"

When these types of comments first started coming to me, I accepted them with a mix of irritation, enthusiasm, anger and responsibility. As a volunteer leader, I was already putting in more hours than I could count and I felt the weight of every good suggestion.

But over the last 20 years of testing volunteer philosophies, I have concluded that there are lots of people who want to help - about 50% of them are even willing to take charge of their own great ideas. That's great news for your organization!

The world is filled with great ideas. It is also filled with capable people who are willing to help.

Practice your new mantra: "That's a great idea! Would you be willing to be in charge of that?"

When you first introduce this phrase into your vocabulary, it may be strangely empowering. It may also be tempting to deliver it in a sassy or sarcastic tone ~ but sarcasm is not my intention. Embrace the phrase and the belief that the "idea-gifter" might say "yes." Say it with a smile ~ it is an invitation for the "gift-giver" to get involved.

Keep in mind that the other 50% of the time, you will receive a blank stare in response. People aren't accustomed to hearing this response, but they do seem to understand and appreciate it when they hear it. It is an invitation to get involved and most people actually appreciate it. My research has suggested that the #1 reason more people are not involved in our volunteer organizations is that we fail to ask them to help.

So remember: You do not bear the responsibility of accepting/implementing every great idea that is given to you, but, if you deem that it is a good idea, you do bear the responsibility of expanding your volunteer ranks beyond your close circle of friends.Doing so strengthens your organization and builds a healthier structure for the cause for which you have great passion.

Say it now: "That's a great idea! Would you be willing to be in charge of that?" These words need to be ingrained into the minds and mouths of every volunteer leader.

You are not supposed to do it all alone. Ask for help. And get ready to lead.

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on motivational programs.

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