One of the most powerful ways for younger managers to understand and experience the type of leadership needed for the C-Suite is to do volunteer work early in their careers. This is because the type of leadership at the top is akin to being a leader of volunteers, it is not about carrots and sticks but about persuasion and getting people to grasp and follow your vision.
It’s an irony of modern corporate life, but one of the greatest challenges in motivating employees to sustain strong business performance is to make them feel like there’s a larger purpose to their lives than just meeting financial goals and this need is only getting strong with the younger generation, the Postmoderns. Although business success and the raises, bonuses, and perks that come with it are intrinsic motivators, money and corporate extras aren’t everything for most people.
Having corporate programs that encourage employees to work as volunteers for organizations in their community are one way to offer an extra corporate benefit that makes employees feel pride and satisfaction, and makes them happier and more productive workers. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, promotes what he calls “the 1 per- cent solution”: 1 percent of the company’s equity, 1 percent of its profits, and 1 percent of its employees’ paid work hours are devoted to philanthropy. Software maker SAS, which has for years been among the Top 20 in Fortune’s annual list of the 100 best companies to work for, offers a volunteer initiative that lets employees use flexible schedules to take paid time off for projects in the community, or even work in teams with their managers on a volunteer effort during business hours.
To our minds, though, volunteer work isn’t just an outlet for employees in search of more meaning in their work lives; it provides an excellent way to prepare for a senior executive position. By volunteering for projects in nonprofit organizations, experienced executives can hone their supervisory and leadership skills, and aspiring executives can gain the experience and networking opportunities that could lead to plum positions in the company. Read More