The Power of Volunteerism


Change requires a large and diverse number of committed personnel, and is not achieved by appointing members to a "change team" or task force. Inclusion, trust, and empowerment are essential. Change occurs best when powered by passion and intrinsic motivation.

Change is sustained when people volunteer to help: A "want‐to" culture trumps a "have‐to" culture. By engaging both the head and the heart, employees begin to see how the change can help them, their team, their department, and the organization. They quickly move from understanding, to believing, to buying in and most importantly engaging.

These volunteers begin to identify the top opportunities and projects that will advance the change effort. Teams begin to form, naturally, and choose to focus on a variety of efforts to accelerate the desired change. Once these teams complete a project or break down a barrier, they select the next most important project to accelerate the change. Employees from the pool of volunteers select the projects and initiatives they have most passion for, or where they believe that can add value.

Nobody is being told that they have to do anything. This process ultimately creates a highly adaptable organization that complements the existing hierarchical structure

This process must begin with leaders creating a vivid picture of opportunities ahead that connect to the head and the heart. Exemplary leadership is critical. 

This is the fifth part of a six-part series. Read all six parts:

 1. How to Lead Change and Accelerate Achievement
 2. Leading and Managing Change
 3. How to Be a Change Leader
 4. How to Get Employees to Embrace Change
 5. The Power of Volunteerism
 6. How to Create a Culture of Winning

Mike Evans is a best-selling author/speaker and Managing Partner of QuestMark. Over the course of his career he has worked alongside a star studded list of world-renowned thought leaders such as Dr. Stephen Covey and Tom Peters.