05/17/2011 09.01 EST
On Sunday evenings when I look at my calendar for the week ahead, I’ll usually find a minimum of four to five appointments devoted to my non-profit responsibilities: board or committee meetings, talks with staff, fundraising opportunities, etc. Combined with the responsibilities of serving my clients as an executive search professional and running a small business, it can make for a long week – but one that is fulfilling both personally and professionally.
I have found that serving as a board member over the years has broadened my perspective as a professional and a leader. By training and experience, I am an executive search and human resources professional. As the Chair of the Board of the Please Touch Museum, I also have to be part CFO, Vice President of Marketing, Head of Development and Strategic Planner. When we moved the Museum to its current and, might I say, beautiful home in Fairmount Park, I also found myself playing the role of real estate developer and architect. My experience as a volunteer leader has exposed me to a broad spectrum of business issues, which I have, in turn, been able to apply to the benefit of my clients and colleagues.
Beyond honing my hard skills, I believe my volunteer experience has made me a much stronger leader. My fellow board members at Please Touch and previously at the Forum of Executive Women and the National Adoption Center, have often been more senior to me or hold broader leadership roles in their own organizations. As fellow volunteers, I can’t really tell them to do anything. I need to be able to influence and persuade them to support a common vision. While I believe we have all shared the common goal of furthering the missions of these organizations, we all come to it from a different place. I need to meet them where they are and hopefully get us all to the same destination.
I’m not going lie to you and say that my non-profit work hasn’t benefitted my business. It has introduced me to leaders I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet and learn from (and do business with). But that’s a by-product of serving my real passion of making a difference in the lives of women and children (especially girls) through education and expanded possibilities. I encourage you to find the opportunity to support the causes most important to you through volunteer leadership as well. While the tasks ahead might look daunting on Sunday, I can guarantee you that you will sleep well on Friday night!