Management & leadership

Charity Leaders: Be the change you want to see

Mahatma Gandhi said, “be the change that we want to see in the world.”

For me, this is what many leaders need to be during the challenging times that currently face our sector.

Managers and leaders don’t just need to ‘be;’ they also need to ‘do.’

In other words, they need to turn their organisation vision, mission and values into action.

It’s one thing to say that we believe in integrity. It is something quite different to be able to demonstrate those behaviours through our actions in the eyes of others that we lead and manage.

Words and phrases such as ‘vision,’ ‘mission’ and ‘core values’ need to move from being buzzwords and jargon into something that has a positive and lasting impact on our volunteers and staff.

The recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower demonstrates that human-beings are driven by shared values of humanity: compassion, kindness and unity in the face of terrible adversity. Values that inspired ordinary individuals to extraordinary things – not for themselves but for others.

People of all backgrounds, from all faiths and none, rich and poor, have been motivated to volunteer their time, donate whatever they could and give money. All in a unified show of support for those affected by this appalling tragedy. Often those giving the most were those who live in abject poverty themselves.

Think about what motivates you

So, what has this to do with management and leadership and motivating others in charities?

Well, I don’t know about you! However, I’ve never (in my 25 years in the charity sector and having set up a charity myself) come across anyone who volunteers or works in our sector for purely financial gain!

Let’s face it, in our sector, we don’t get paid a £1m bonus at the end of the year. In fact, many of our charities are struggling in times of increased demand in the context of ever-diminishing resources.

What really motivates most (if not all) of us in the charity sector, is our passion to make a difference in our world.  DSC’s strapline says it all: we exist to ‘help you help others,’ no matter what specific mission of your charity may be.

Know your vision and mission

Most charities have vision statements, mission statements and core values. However, it constantly surprises me whilst delivering training courses, that frontline staff aren’t always able to articulate what these are..

Sadly, these become words on a piece of paper or a website, often forgotten after the first day of induction. However, they should really be like lettering through a stick of rock.

What do I mean by this? Well, I whole-heartedly believe that the vision, mission and core values of an organisation should truly be seen in the day-to-day actions of staff and volunteers.

This starts with the behaviours of managers and leaders and their ability to translate these into opportunities to motivate staff and volunteers.

Let’s empower staff and volunteers for your charity and cause to truly “be the change you want to see in the world.”

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