Learn to be a leader through volunteering

Expat partners might be on a career break while on assignment but that doesn’t mean they can’t develop new leadership skills and career capabilities.

Authenticity, positivity, confidence

With the right volunteering role, we can learn to convey authenticity, positivity, and confidence while also developing our personal brand. Business leaders can use all of the above to gain the trust of their teams, colleagues and professional network, which is why there’s a growing trend for ambitious marketers and leaders to seek out roles in the nonprofit sector in their home countries.

Creative thinkers, clear talkers

Often forced to devise plans from limited resources, leading volunteering roles can help you improve your creative thinking and problem solving skills. Through volunteering you can also increase cross-cultural competency and build clear communication skills, both of which can be extremely beneficial for leaders of multicultural teams.

Choose wisely

However, while the “non-profit service is fundamentally meaningful”, according to Kim Starkey Jonker and William F. Meehan, the authors of Engine of Impact, “to make it count, any social organisation you join has to deliver real performance – which most fail to achieve.” In other words, choose that organisation wisely.

Does it drive you?

The authors also advise considering your motives: “Just because it seems noble, doesn’t mean you should – or can – do this kind of work,” says Meehan, who advises people to ask: “Do you hear a voice [and] have a visceral feeling for some cause that pulls you? If it doesn’t personally drive you, you won’t be successful.”

Seize the (right) opportunity

Ultimately, the authors believe, if the right leadership role with the right nonprofit organisation comes along it’s an opportunity worth taking (we must stress for expat partners it might be more challenging to find such a role in a foreign country than at home).

Document your experiences

Should you find a suitable role (and of course, that’s been complicated by Covid-19), there’s one big question: how will you be able to articulate what you learned through volunteering (when returning to the workforce)? One suggestion is to create a blog or keep a personal diary and document your experiences. If you’re passionate about the role, the words will surely flow. That means, when the time comes, you will be extremely lucid when talking about the experience. That will make it even easier for your old bosses or prospective employers to clearly see the leader that has formed in you.

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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