Transferring Leadership Skills into Retirement and Volunteer Opportunities
Transferring Leadership Skills into Retirement and Volunteer Opportunities
Dr. Carolyn Vincent Staff

I have worked with many organizations over the years on a number of different initiatives whether it was a reorganization, leadership development, or workforce engagement and motivation. In most cases the discussion and assessments focused on some aspect of leadership. If you’re recently retired and considering a leadership role or working as a volunteer, it’s helpful to understand a few concepts about leadership when working with others. I call them ATA—Authentic, Trustworthy, and Acknowledging.

Always be Authentic

Whether you are a board member or unpaid volunteer, it’s good to know that employees and volunteer workers want to support and be around leaders who are genuine, self-aware, and who not only understand their own strengths, but also recognize their limitations. Bill George wrote a book in 2003 called Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value, in which he challenged a new generation to lead authentically. Authentic leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose and make it a point to lead and make decisions based on their values—sharing in successes and failures. They engage with others.

Be Trustworthy and Good at Your Job

Employees and volunteers want to have confidence that the leader has employees’ best interests at heart. The employees also believe that the leader has ‘what it takes’ to perform the job. Stephen RM Covey wrote a very insightful book called The Speed of Trust. He said that most of us think of trust just in terms of character. However, he believes that trust is function of two things: character and competence. I worked with a leader whose employees liked him as a person. They felt like he genuinely cared about them, but they did not believe that he had the skills necessary to successfully perform in his role as leader. So for that reason, they did not trust him. From that point, it was an uphill battle. The good news is that he did what was necessary to gain the skills necessary and consequently he garnered their trust!

Acknowledge and Recognize Everyone’s Work

I will be the first one to say that monetary rewards can enhance employee and volunteer motivation but in most cases; only to a certain point. In my work with business and organizations, people like to be recognized for their contributions to the organization. They want to feel appreciated. They have told me that while the money is great; it is more about what the money represents -ACKNOWLEDGEMENT and RECOGNITION. Employees want to be acknowledged and recognized for their contributions to the organization. They want to feel appreciated. Here is where leaders should leverage the 3 B’s—Be timely, Be specific, and Be sincere.

So if you’re taking on a new role by helping at a food bank, church, bridge club or still working, look for or be an ATA Leader!


Dr. Carolyn Vincent (Dr. C) is an author, trainer, facilitator, speaker, organizational development expert, and certified executive and leadership coach. Her latest collection of poems is called Unbreakable: Readings That Inspire and Motivate. As the president of Vincent Associates, she is also known as a diversity and inclusion catalyst who teaches and facilitates public and private sector organizations in diversity and inclusion. She earned a business degree from Arkansas State University, an executive MBA from Strayer University, and an Ed.D. from The George Washington University. Dr. Vincent is a native of Arkansas who currently resides in Maryland.

You can reach her directly at

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