I'm sure each of us can remember a time when we've volunteered at a local event, donated to a cause that is close to our hearts, or simply did something selfless because it felt good. It may not seem like it, but every time we do, we are developing the leadership skills required to run a successful business and ultimately become a stronger leader. Don't believe me? Here's 5 ways volunteerism can help you in business and life in general:
1. Confidence Booster
Before you'll ever be able to lead a team, you'll first have to believe in yourself and the work you do. Some of my biggest mentors have shown me that a ROI (Return on Investment) isn't just about financial gain, but also the emotional gain you receive when investing your time to impact others. Gandhi put it best when he said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Once you see the look on someone's face that you've helped through selfless service, it's hard not to feel a boost of confidence.
2. Building a Strong Community
Building corporate culture is crucial to any successful business. You might have a well thought-out business plan, a competitive edge and a product or service that people can't wait to get their hands on, but if you don't have a sense of community and purpose, the people you work with feel like what they do doesn't matter. Eventually, this will have a profound impact on productivity. The same can be said for volunteerism, many events require a great deal of collaboration and teamwork to pull off, and without colleagues in your corner or people who believe in your cause, you'll be hard-pressed to raise any money or morale.
3. Discovering Your Passion
What's the point in doing anything (business or otherwise) if you're not passionate about it? I always say: You've gotta do what you love, and love what you do. There are plenty of people who volunteer because they're passionate or have a personal connection with the cause. If you haven't found an opportunity yet that quite speaks to you, ask yourself this: What is one thing you love doing that doesn't feel like work? The reason this is so important is because if you truly love what you're doing and who it benefits, you'll never "work" a day in your life.
4. Inclusion of All Skills and People
In my article 3 Things Successful Leaders Do To Bring Out The Best In People, I described how the best leaders recognize the skills they have and also the ones they don't. This is an important skill to have as it takes all kinds of people, with a vast array of skill sets to get a job done. Simply put: if you were put in charge of a relay race fundraiser, and you assigned all the volunteers to the check-in desk, there'd be no one to take in pledges, give out refreshments at the water stations, or cheer on the runners as they crossed the finish line. There's something for everyone out there, and good leaders work hard to discover exactly what that is for each team member.
5. Active Participation
Its one thing to include everyone in an activity but that doesn't mean they're actively participating. This is one of the reasons why a lot of companies have started to encourage team building events; because well... they ACTUALLY work. When placed in an environment where you can actively get involved and learn new skills, there's a greater sense of purpose for what has been accomplished. Not only have you helped others reach a common goal, but you've probably learned something new along the way. This is the entire basis behind what it means to volunteer and why there's something measurable in the end other than just a warm, fuzzy feeling. Although that is a nice perk too.
There you have it. 5 ways you can help yourself while simultaneously helping others through volunteerism. Haven't started a business yet? Then now's the perfect time to sharpen those skills at no cost to you -- except your time, but I can guarantee it will be worth the investment.
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