Leader to Leader: Volunteer Leadership and Obligations
How do you balance your time as a volunteer leader with your other obligations?
Chair, National Affordable Housing Management Association, Alexandria, Virginia
Balance is the key to success. Achieving balance is harder than most believe. I’ve found the following to be essential to balancing my time: stay connected electronically, but not 24/7; set aside time to work on specific tasks related to my volunteer organizations; have a well-trained support team; and realize my capacity. I make a conscious effort to be aware of how I spend my time. I would like to agree to take on every volunteer task asked of me, but realistically time is limited. Learn to say “no.” Identify the volunteer organizations you enjoy the most and focus on giving your time to what you enjoy.
Tom Deas, MD
President, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, Oak Brook, Illinois
I had been considering a best answer to this question, then one morning, as I struggled awake at 3:50 a.m. to catch a flight home after two days of meetings on behalf of ASGE, the answer became crystal clear. I create more time by rising earlier and staying up later. During my days of medical training, sleep deprivation was simply the expected professional dues. Now, the time demands of my life present more of a physiologic endurance challenge. However, the reasons for my pursuits have not changed. My passion for the mission of ASGE and my love of the profession drive my desire to lead, innovate, and make a difference. I have also found that my best thinking occurs during a brisk bicycle-ride-induced endorphin high.
Chair, International Ticketing Association, Indianapolis
The balancing act between career, family, and volunteering can be challenging. Trying to schedule equal time for all is unrealistic. This process should be more like life—fluid and sometimes spontaneous. My attempt at balance is aided by the resources and tools that assist in my personal and professional responsibilities. These keep me organized, which is key to staying on task and allowing me the time to dedicate to all—or, sometimes, to most. It is also important to breathe and enjoy the time spent on each undertaking.
Joseph W. Markling
Chair and CEO, Building Owners and Managers Association International, Washington, DC
The theme for my tenure as chair of BOMA is “Better by Association,” meaning we are all better when we work together. I apply “Better by Association” to every aspect of my life. I have a full and busy career at Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis, but it is also a privilege for me to fulfill my volunteer leadership commitments. Yes, it takes extra effort, but it’s not a matter of -having time, but making time. Everyone can make time for things they are passionate about. The connections, experiences, and knowledge that come out of the time investment make me a better person and a better leader.
(illustrations by Monica Hellstrom)