One of the lines from the Broadway soundtrack A Bronx Tale* states: “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” I agree with this premise but would add “or wasted volunteers”. There is nothing that can kill long-term motivation faster than someone offering to help and showing up only to find that there is nothing for them to do.

It happens in service organizations where people agree to assist on a project but then hear that “we’ve got this” or the project is all but finished by the time they arrive. It happens in the workplace when someone offers to take on a task but then learns that someone else decided it would be easier to do it themselves. Wasted volunteer efforts happen when plans change and the person who raised their hand is not notified, leaving them alone at the original location, or when someone volunteers to make a connection or contact but the offer is never utilized.

When someone agrees to help – in whatever form that may take – accept their willingness as the gift that it is. Just as you would never leave a present unopened or left aside, treat those who raise their hand with the same anticipation and gratitude.

*from “Look to Your Heart” on A Bronx Tale Original Broadway Cast soundtrack.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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