Leading a team of volunteers is a stewardship – it is one side of a relationship between the leader and the members of the team.  While most relationships are one-to-one in nature, the relationship of a leader is one-to-many.  As leaders we must nurture the health and strength of the team in the same way we would nurture a relationship.

One of the best lessons I ever learned about relationships was that they are never static.  Relationships are always moving forward or backward – never remaining in the same place.  Therefore it is essential that leaders add positive energy to their team to keep them moving in the right direction.

Here are 3 ways to add momentum to your team:

Add Play – Any good relationship involves play.  Play is a relief valve for pressure and is a valuable way to add momentum.    Play doesn’t mean haphazard fun – it means adding intentional positive energy into the mix.  Team members need to experience play as it helps remind everyone that they actually enjoy the people they serve alongside.  Adding play to your team should be systematic in execution but organic in experience.  Systematic in execution because you as the leader have planned ahead to ensure play is in the mix.  Organic in experience because people need to feel like play is a natural part of the team culture.

Add Praise – Great leaders have the ability to find the good and build on it.  Momentum is gained when you find praise worthy things within your team and point them out.  Gratitude and encouragement go a long way in adding momentum to a person’s efforts.  Adding praise could be as simple as a private thank you note when someone goes above and beyond.  It can also look like an award or public acknowledgement at a team gathering.  The point of adding praise is to call out and encourage actions, attitudes and behaviors that are ideal on the team.

Add Pleasure – Volunteers give their time and energy to invest in your team.  They are not paid employees; they show up expecting nothing external in return for their investment.  Adding pleasure means finding ways to provide external tokens of gratitude to their experience.  Perhaps one of the best ways to do this is employing a “surprise and delight” strategy.  Think of a kid opening a box of cracker jacks – he is already excited about the caramelized popcorn in the box, but there is an added pleasure of a special surprise in the box.  Surprise and delight means blessing volunteers (seemingly at random) in simple ways that catch them off guard and bring joy.

Find ways to add play, praise and pleasure to your volunteer experience and you will find a growing momentum within your team!