Community Service: Providing Business Leadership in One Hour

The blog below is inspired by a recent “Business Community Leadership Forum “How to make a difference in one hour or less!” with Manna on Main Street, a food pantry, soup kitchen, and emergency financial aid provider, which took place on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 in Lansdale, PA as well as many years of working with inspired community leaders and volunteers.
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Leadership Role Models

Entertainment, celebrity and business stars like Bono, Oprah, Jon Bon Jovi, Nelson Mandela, Bill & Melinda Gates, and Lady Gaga give generously to important causes.  Each of them inspire change by empowering individuals and communities to help others and give back.

When you assess each of their attributes as well as the characteristics of other business and community leaders one core tenant that often stands out is that they associate themselves with non-profit organizations, charities (including their own foundations), and social issues by contributing their time, money, resources, and energy to help make a difference.

At a recent Global Youth Leadership Summit, Tony Robbins, entrepreneur, author and peak performance strategist, shared the following wisdom,

“Leaders inspire themselves and others to do, be, give, and become more than they ever thought possible, thereby creating more leaders in the process. When faced with challenges, leaders defy the odds, set a new standard, and step up and create the future as they see it.”

While there are many individuals in our communities who give generously there are many who, rightfully so, express that they are “too busy” with work, families, and existing obligations to support that one extra cause.

How can being too busy obscure change around social issues? What happens if those who are capable, interested, and talented are too busy to help worthy causes?

As business leaders we are familiar with the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few) named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto which states that, for many activities, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

So it’s true, we need to encourage the 20% who can contribute in order to effect the 80% of change we would like to see happen.

When business leaders, volunteers, and community members, who represent a vital part of the 20%, are too busy then the changes we seek will slow down or not happen at all. As a result, we want to support enough individuals and organizations to contribute to the change so that worthwhile causes will take place — and those who need help will get more of it.

Perhaps we should accept the status quo? Or perhaps there’s a way to enable small amounts of time so that more colleagues can extend themselves just a little bit more and feel good about it.

The One Hour Difference

For those of us looking for a solution of creating change let us suggest the “one hour” principal which states that if you can find a way to give just one hour in a week or month of your time that good things will come of it.

Or in others words, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” And for that to happen we must find the time to do it.

So whether you are a current or emerging business leader or an every day worker or community member what is the benefit of giving an extra hour or your time?  A few considerations include:

  1. Building your network
  2. Cultivating skills and empowerment beyond one’s current job or role
  3. Increasing visibility and influence in society as an individual and as part of an organization
  4. Helping to support a community cause one small step at a time
  5. Passing a small amount of your time forward without asking for anything in return

Now keep in mind, there’s more to this principal then one hour. If you attend a meeting, event, or activity it will likely take more then one hour but the idea is as follows: what can you do in “one hour” to effect change and contribute?

Somehow we want to go beyond “zero time” to “one hour” and then we can build upon it as it makes sense. We can also combine one hour contributions and realize that the sum is greater then the parts!

So what are the next steps in supporting an important non-profit, charity, or social cause? A few ideas include:

  • Contact an organization and take an onsite tour, arrange a brief call, and/or research it on the internet. Find out more!
  • Connect with the executive director, business development, volunteer manager, and/or staff and ask what type of help they need based on your skills and interests
  • Organize participation at a fund raiser that is already set-up (i.e., golf outings, 5Ks / walks, bike rides, sponsorship, car donations, annual dinners, matching funds, and other creative ideas!)
  • Suggest that proceeds from a company meeting or annual event go in part to a worthy non-profit, charity or social cause
  • Assess what you can do in your off hours by way of e-mails, social media, and commutes to and from the office (using a hands free cell phone!) to make directed calls to connect with other volunteers, donors, or contributors
  • Extend communications by offering to pass on news or announcements to your organization and co-workers from an organization who’s social cause you support
  • Identify a busy non-profit or charity leader or chair of a group (or committee) and ask them what you can do to help with “one hour” a week or month of your time

Business leaders and community volunteers must be willing to set priorities and make small sacrifices. Great leaders serve first and act to help others which is positive for themselves and the organizations they represent.

If we give “one hour” we can extend ourselves and help build tangible value and results for those who need it.

And who knows, one hour can lead to “two” and pretty soon you may find you have more time then expected and the social issue that you support will benefit in both big and small ways!

Richard D. Blumberg, President, World Sales Solutions, writes this series of blogs to help senior executives and their teams, leaders, influencers, educators, and students develop effective strategies and tactical execution which results in more revenues, profits, growth, jobs, and value. More >>



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