A Reflection on My Volunteer Work in Habitat for Humanity - Paper Example

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Within the non-profit sector, volunteer work is critical to organization success. Organizations in this field benefit from comprehension of volunteer principles and practices, especially the relationship that emerges between volunteers and paid professional staff members. There are several factors that contribute to the relationship between leaders and the volunteers, which enhance the leadership skills of the leader, as well as, the volunteer, and consequently the success of the organization CITATION Bau11 \l 1033 (Baumgartner, 2011). Using transformational leadership theory and leader-member exchange relationships as the foundation of this essay, I will reflect on the leadership relationships between Habitat for organization and I, during my tenure as a volunteer in the organization. In addition, I will integrate the path-goal theory in the discussion, to illustrate how volunteer behavior is connected to leadership behavior.

History of Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity was formed by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976, with the aim of providing affordable, decent and safe shelter for those in need. The origin of the concept can be traced back to the Koinonia Farm, a small Christian community outside of Georgia, USA. The farm was founded by Clarence Jordan in 1942. It is at this farm in 1965, that Jordan and Fuller came up with the idea of partnership housing, which involved partnership with volunteers to build decent and simple houses CITATION Hab17 \l 1033 (Habitat for Humanity Canada, 2017). Payment for new houses was to be financed through a revolving fund that was made up of funds that were contributed by new homeowners. I joined the organization back in 2016 as a volunteer. I generally assisted in different roles, most of which involved receiving products, storing the building materials, as well as, assisting the customers with information when purchasing fixtures and furniture.

Transformational Leadership

Unlike in for-profit sectors, where motivation is generally the result of monetary compensation, leaders in the non-profit sector must devise methods to motivate the volunteers CITATION Oos13 \l 1033 (Oostlander, Guntert, Schie, & Wehner, 2013). The use of transformational of leadership style is one of the methods that the organization employs to motivate the volunteers. In simplest terms, a transformational leader is one who get people to wat to change, improve or be led. It involves assessment of associates, valuing them and satisfying their needs. Transformational leadership is underpinned by four factors: individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence CITATION Dwy13 \l 1033 (Dwyer, Bono, Snyder, Nov, & Berson, 2013). As a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, I observed that majority of the managers had consideration for each volunteer. For example, the managers would interact with each volunteer one on one, coaching them on how to perform certain task. This instilled a feeling of being valued at the organization. Furthermore, the leaders are high effective, motivators, and influencers. For example, is not uncommon to meet most of the managers moving around talking to the volunteers and encouraging them.

Effective transformational leadership has resulted in the performances that exceeds the goals set by the leadership of the organization. It is not uncommon for one to see volunteers at the organization going even further to take up and finish extra roles. The combination of the four components of transformational leadership is what makes the organization successful even though most of the staff at the organization are volunteers. By acting as coaches, innovators, encouragers, and strong role models, the leaders at the organization have been able to leverage one of the most successful leadership style (Dwyer et al., 2013).

Leader-Volunteer Relationship and the Path Goal Theory

The path-goal model focuses on the ability of a leader to motivate his team members and also encourage them to accomplish the set goal. Although such leadership traits have been examined in other leadership models, the path-goal theory emphasizes the aspect of the leader developing the goal and also the pathway through which the goal will be achieved. Simply, an effective leader, will encourage his team members, motivate them and also inform them on how to tackle a given activity CITATION Bau11 \l 1033 (Baumgartner, 2011). The most important aspect of model in the leader-volunteer relationship is the focus of the leaders behavior on the performance of the volunteer. A volunteer unlike a subordinate will require similar training and supervision as a subordinate. It is thus important for leader to manage the relationship with volunteer in manner that allows the volunteer to succeed. Otherwise, inability of the volunteer to succeed may discourage them from trying new tasks.

As I work in Habitat for Humanity, I have come across multiple situations where the motivation and advice of a leader is needed. When I was new at the organization, I did not even know where to store the materials that were brought to the organization. On the other hand, most of the other new volunteers lacked organizational experiences, which brought about numerous problems with coordination of activities. However, most of the leaders at the organization were very helpful. For example, John Steiner, a member of the board would move around looking for people who were stuck and also give them advice on how to continue with the tasks. He would calm those who were complaining and also express support and understanding of the difficulties we were facing at the organization. One of his key leadership trait was his ability to advice on the best way to finish a task and also motivate the volunteers to finish their tasks. Furthermore, he leverages different leadership styles depending on the situation. For example, he would use directive leadership style where I or the other volunteers did not understand how to complete a task. Some other instances, he would employ participative leadership, especially when he wanted to encourage the volunteers during the ob. In my opinion, motivating the volunteers and participating in the activities allowed us to learn on how to perfect our performance. I believe, that such traits have been essential in promoting team morale at the organizational and also increasing the sense of belonging among group members CITATION Oos13 \l 1033 (Oostlander, Guntert, Schie, & Wehner, 2013).


Habitat for Humanity has been able to employ two key theories to inform the relationship between the volunteers and the leadership, the transformational theory and the path-goal model. The use of the two theories have allowed for the cultivation of a beneficial relationship, which motivates the volunteers to achieve the set goals, even though there are no monetary benefits. Leadership at the organization employ multiple leadership styles depending on the task at hand and the individuals who are performing the task, making them highly effective. By volunteering in the organization, I have been able to observe the benefits of good leadership styles, and how they can influence organizational outcomes.


BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Baumgartner, M. (2011). Path-Goal Model of the Leader/Volunteer Relationship in Higher Education. Masters in Liberal Studies, 106(1), 1-47.

Dwyer, P., Bono, J., Snyder, M., Nov, O., & Berson, Y. (2013). Sources of Volunteer Motivation: Transformational Leadership and Personal Motives Influence Volunteer Outcomes. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 24(2), 181-205.

Habitat for Humanity Canada. (2017, October 21st). About US. Retrieved from Habitat for Humanity Canada: https://www.habitat.ca/en/about

Oostlander, J., Guntert, S., Schie, S., & Wehner, T. (2013). Leadership and Volunteer Motivation: A Study Using Self-Determination Theory. Sage Journals, 43(5), 869-889.

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