The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Embrace and Practice Leadership Skills in a Safe Environment

Looking to develop your leadership skills? There's ample opportunity to learn how to jump from great employee to great leader in the non-profit world!Many business leaders embrace the value of giving back, whether it be to the community, industry, profession or a cherished cause. There are endless intrinsic rewards for doing so, and many see it as a part of a fulfilling adult life. But have you ever considered how you can develop critical business and leadership skills as part of the relationship. Moving from a good employee to great leader takes a broad range of skills you may not be exposed to in your current role. Finding a place to learn and practice these can be a scary undertaking, especially if we are putting ourselves in front of peers and supervisors.

There are advantages your will find in non-profit service that enhance your personal and professional life, as well as add exposure to your organization. Some of the additional benefits that can be gained through board service include:

  • Networking and increased visibility of your organization – yes, this is a bit self-serving, but at the same time we are all in sales. Representing the organization means that you are representing your team, and the quality and professionalism your organization would bring if your contact selected you for a project. At the same time, individuals gain public speaking experience, and learning to walk into the room of strangers without fear, and essential leadership skill.
  • Sense of responsibility to the community –  We all hear about the entitlement generation. By engaging in non-profits, we embrace the idea that privilege comes with responsibility. If those of us in positions of power and expertise don’t help others, who will?
  • Teamwork – Its one thing to be part of an internal team sharing the same goals, culture, and norms. Being on a team outside the organization provides an exposure to unexpected obligations where there is minimal oversight and authority to ensure conformity to the group. You will have to work with the outside board to state their position, listen to others, determine the best solution, and ultimately come to consensus. These are skills that can be difficult to teach in a more homogeneous organization.
  • Skill Development – do you or your team members have little knowledge about accounting? Volunteer to be the treasurer! Looking to learn more about social media – be the communication chair for your favorite organization. Non-profit organizations often have staff members in these areas that will guard against complete failure, and will be open and forthcoming with new ways to handle a function you may be less familiar with.

You have to be willing to “put your money where your mouth is.” Many non-profits have some sort of “give or get” requirement, which means that the members of the board have an amount each year they must donate, or raise through contributions. Be prepared to ask your organization for support in this as a development opportunity. Your time will provide a wonderful training ground as well as a connection you can share with stakeholders as a way the business gives back to the community – in both time and resources.

Just one of the tips Lori Kleiman will share during her session Good to Great: Navigating the C-Suite for long-term results June 13, 2016 11:30 – 12:30pm. Lori Kleiman is a HR speaker and consultant who will bring many other action items to the presentation allowing you to move up the ranks in your organization as a strategic executive who is action oriented and technologically savvy.

  1. Great insight and timely advice as new grads need to look at practical career advice. Thanks for posting.

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