“Help Wanted: Looking for a Manager to Lead and Develop a Team.” We often see career opportunities such as this when seeking a new position, but how do we prepare and educate ourselves to lead and manage a team? How can we gain experience through leadership opportunities outside of work so that we can bring that experience and new ideas to the table as we look to advance in our careers? Here are a few ideas.
- Think about your interests. Have you thought about organizing a fundraiser for something you are passionate about? By organizing a fundraiser or participating on a committee for a local or national charity or event, you will be able to enhance your skills and gain management and/or leadership experience. Finding your niche may be as simple as organizing a coat and blanket drive for the local shelter or serving on a committee with an organization like Habitat for Humanity or a local food bank. Find small organizations near you by searching community forums online or in the local papers. These organizations are always looking for leadership with new and fresh ideas. You may be the ideal person to help fundraise, increase membership or even create professional development for a group. You can apply your skills while also giving back to the community.
- Many companies today have charitable organizations to which they contribute. Learn more about the philanthropic activities your employer supports and how you can participate. You may have the opportunity to lead a committee or manage a humanitarian initiative for your company that will allow you to showcase your organizational, communication, negotiation and team-building skills, all while making a positive difference.
- What is your background? Research opportunities to participate on boards where you can provide your expertise while also increasing your knowledge and professional development. For example, is your background in communications, public relations, IT, education, business, marketing, etc.? There are many national societies with local chapters that host educational and networking events, several of which recruit board members at local, regional and national levels. These types of opportunities to serve allow you to lead committees, do public speaking and focus on specific areas of professional development while also sharing your expertise and giving back to your profession.
Susan Kaiser, Media and Communications Manager for Midmark, became a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in an effort to gain additional knowledge in the field after moving into a PR role more than ten years ago. In 2015, she was asked to participate on the board for the PRSA local chapter in her area as a Programming Co-Chair. After a successful year, she was nominated as President-Elect of the Dayton Area Chapter in 2016 and now serves as President of the chapter. “Having a communications background, and being involved as a member of PRSA for many years, I really believed that serving on the board would provide a great venue for leadership education. Not only am I able to build a network of resources and mentors in my profession, l have managed a diverse group of people and committees as well as the type of PR projects that would fall outside of my normal role at Midmark. I am then able to take that knowledge and experience and apply it within my own career.”
In a study in partnership with Dan Schawbel and American Express, found that 63 percent of managers are very willing or extremely willing to support an employee's professional-related activities outside of the office, but fewer than half of employees are very interested or extremely interested in pursuing them. "They can help with development experiences that you might not get the opportunity to do at work, board experience or other leadership opportunities," says Susan Gambardella, VP, Global Account Team at Coca Cola.
Leverage your experiences and successes so that you can turn those experiences into talking points for your future. Management will be impressed with your initiative and commitment to lead in other aspects of your life besides the office.