Volunteers can be toxic

Toxic Leadership

A recent article by The Fundraiser Whisperer focuses on Toxic Leadership and states that 3/10 of leaders are toxic and can cause irreparable damage to an organisation, its mission, its members and the wider community.

 

Author Mandy Weidmann explains that

Leaders take on the massive responsibilities of working towards the organisation’s mission, maintaining a healthy, inclusive culture, strategic future planning, fundraising and ensuring accountability to the membership as a whole. Volunteer leaders are passionate, driven and committed but too often lack any experience or training in effective management.

Our own volunteers work extremely hard in the best interests of our calisthenics clubs, but without the necessary skills can actually be causing problems.

The author describes a toxic leader as someone who

exploits, devalues and demeans their team, and who perhaps assumes a disproportionate sense of power and influence within the organisation. Generally, this type of leader is unreceptive to new ideas and feedback and can discourage new committee members who might have dissenting opinions

 

The article below was published by The Fundraising Whisper on March 22, 2018 titled Toxic Leadership.
Author: Mandy Weidmann

 

Volunteer leaders lack skills and training

Volunteer leaders are passionate, driven and committed but too often lack any experience or training in effective management.  That’s where trouble can start.

Juanita Wheeler, an experienced strategy specialist in the not-for-profit and social enterprise sector, says:

“Passion doesn’t necessarily translate to the ability to manage an organisation today.’’

Toxic leadership is a problem as old as the ages. In my work as the Fundraising Whisperer, I hear my fair share of stories. It can cause irreparable damage to an organisation, its mission, its members and the wider community. Research shows three in every ten leaders – whether they’re ultimately competent or not – are toxic.

Toxic leaders are difficult enough to address in the ‘paid’ workplace, but in small community organisations – that rely on volunteers for their success – it can be especially difficult.

When I talk about leadership when I address volunteer groups, I emphasise that we take our volunteers ‘as they come’.

When you hire staff in a paid environment, you can pick and choose to ensure they fit the culture of your organisation. In a volunteer environment, you don’t get that luxury. This means that community groups need to work particularly hard to find value (and overcome the challenges) in everybody that offers the gift of their time.

A good leader

Often leaders are well-intentioned, enthusiastic and dedicated to serving their community, but might be unaware their attitudes or methods are undermining their objectives.

It is important to understand what healthy leadership is and that it looks and feels the same whether we’re talking about business, political, educational, charitable or community organisations.

“There are so many different attributes that make a good leader, but first and foremost, a good leader is somebody who seeks to get the best out of everybody in their organisation and who inspires individuals to not only get the job done but to grow personally and professionally. It’s about inspiring people to be the best they can be,’’ says Wheeler.

“Not just growing people, it’s also about establishing an optimal organisational culture and having a real clarity around the vital contribution every single person makes to your mission, particularly in not-for-profits.’’

A toxic leader, on the other hand, is someone who exploits, devalues and demeans their team, and who perhaps assumes a disproportionate sense of power and influence within the organisation. Generally, this type of leader is unreceptive to new ideas and feedback and can discourage new committee members who might have dissenting opinions.

Founder’s Syndrome is where a person key to the initial success of a new organisation (or the ‘revival’ of an existing one) becomes a limiting and destructive force in the medium to long-term. Founder’s Syndrome applies equally to volunteering as it does to the workplace.

The biggest fallout from toxic leadership is that it “creates a situation where it all becomes about the politics and not about the kids. It’s divisive.

 

-> read the full article for advise on dealing the toxic leaders

 

 

 


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