In Studenterhus Aarhus there are 6 activity groups. Each group has a group leader, responsible for the learning and development of the individual group members and the group as a whole. The group leaders can participate in a leadership training programme, consisting of three two day-modules with all-day classes on motivational leadership. We offer these classes to help the group leaders gain awareness of their roles, tasks and responsibilities as group leaders, and also to teach them some tools they can use to motivate and train their group members in the skills needed in that group.
When introducing a new topic, the leadership teacher always starts by asking the group leaders what they know about the topic or what their opinion is. For instance: “We are here to learn how to be great group leaders”, the teacher says. “In your opinion, what is a great group leader?” This then leads to a lot of input, based on the experience of the learners on what a successful group leader is and can be used by the teacher as a basis for discussing which skills and competences a good group leader should be able to master and why.
Results for the organisation
By asking what the group leaders themselves consider good leadership, the organization, personified by the teacher, applies an appreciative approach to the, often silent, knowledge that already exists in the group and within the individuals, thereby recognizing the group leaders as already competent within the field and capable of developing further skills within good leadership by applying what they already know.
Results for the group leader
Being recognized for what you already know creates a feeling of security among the group leaders that empowers them to accept new knowledge and also opens their minds to change, ie. 9 basic assumptions of appreciative management. https://www.lederweb.dk/artikler/9-grundantagelser-for-anerkendende-ledelse/
This element can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes, depending on how you organize it and how active the learners are. It can be a group session, where everybody gives input for 5 minutes and then discuss in the group. It can also be split up in smaller group discussions of 15 minutes and then a shared group session, 15-30 min., where each group presents their input and discussions, followed by a larger group discussion, 15-30 min.
Offering actual classes on group leadership, where the group leaders come together, also as a group, gives the organization an opportunity to create shared goals and a shared vision for group leadership in the organization. Using the group leaders’ own experience as the foundation for creating this shared vision creates ownership and involvement in the group leaders.
What is good group leadership
As an organisation that believes in lifelong learning, you need to give your volunteers the opportunity to develop themselves. You can do this by offering training and motivate your volunteers to learn from each other:
How does he do that? What can I learn from that?
Invite your volunteers to sit in on a session with another volunteer.
Volunteers can take lessons from each other and be inspired by someone else’s approach.
You create an atmosphere of openness where it is okay to ask questions. This will make people want to help each other and be open for feedback and ideas.
Volunteers who sit in on a lesson of another volunteer gets new insights and can talk about their insecurities or successes with other volunteers. They are able to grow and get new ideas.
Not all volunteers who have a teaching role know how to structure a class, and sometimes this makes them insecure. There is a lot of information out there about how people learn and what helps them. Make this information available to your volunteers and implement it in the organisation – but don’t make it obligatory. Let people choose what suits them best.
Volunteers have something to rely on and if they have questions or complaints you can use this to talk about it and to clarify the issues.
Volunteers feel more supported. What they do matter and is of value. It makes them stronger people and stronger volunteers. Your participants will also feel this, so everyone benefits from it.
Along with students of the University of Antwerp DINAMO made a road map of a possible course progress (based on the ‘9 phases of Gagné). During the Annual Day of the Volunteer they received more information about it and learned to use it in their work. Now some of them use it to prepare their lessons, others have it in the back of their minds as a guide, and others don’t use it at all.
If you want more information about the nine steps, you are welcome to contact DINAMO.
Sometimes you have to start with the end in order to reach the beginning.
In Studenterhus Aarhus we hold annual workshops where we discuss strategy, values and culture with everyone involved in the organization. One of our goals is to support the learning of our volunteers. That is why we held a workshop where the volunteers made their own “diplomas” stating what they had learned/expected to learn from volunteering with us. Next step was backtracking what they had done in order to learn these things, leaving them with operational action points on how to achieve their desired learning goals.
In the attached file you can see the steps and the diploma template.
Results for the organisation
The volunteers were made aware of the organizational goal of becoming a learning organization and took responsibility for designing their own learning process.
Results for the volunteers
The volunteer was able to relate his or her daily activities in the organization to a longer term goal and purpose and able to take charge of their own learning.
The workshop lasted about 1 hour.