The distance between intention and implementation is often farther than we would like. When Cami and I found out we were having a baby we started talking about all the intentions we had for parenting. It wasn’t too far into parenting that we had a decision to make: we could adhere to our exact intentions no matter what it cost…or we could adjust our actions/implementation to accommodate what we were learning and experiencing in this new family dynamic. As we talked and observed other parents we discovered that everyone had intentions for how they would parent – but the happiest parents – and the people with the healthiest kids seemed to get comfortable with things not going the exact way they planned. In a word, they figured out how to be flexible.
Flexibility is a key to happy parenting, and it is essential when building a volunteer team. The essence of volunteer work is people work – and people are messy and unique. Flexibility allows leaders to embrace the uniqueness of each person. Your prospective volunteers might share a similar passion or interest that draws them to your team – but those same people come in with varying levels of gifting and distinctive scheduling requests. Trying to connect each person to your team with a cookie cutter approach will exhaust you and frustrate volunteers.
A good system helps us serve large numbers of people, but the power of flexibility allows us to serve the individual. Here are 3 things flexibility allows us to lean into:
Flexibility helps us lean into Leadership Discretion
Flexibility allows leaders to make the gut call. As leaders we run the process, the process doesn’t run us. Leaving room for leadership discretion doesn’t mean we are changing or lowering standards. It simply means we know that a leader is the gauge of what is best for the team.
Flexibility helps us lean into the Elimination of Barriers
There is a difference between steps and barriers. Steps create a good process to maximize early engagement on a team. Barriers cause people to turn around and move away from the team. We as leaders must ruthlessly eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of new volunteers.
Flexibility helps us lean into the People over Systems
Don’t allow the system to stand in the way of someone engaging on your team. When you leverage people to make your system work you are objectifying them. A good leader leverages systems in order to lean into people.