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Greek Myths and Expectation Power

When talking incentives, a lot of leaders teeter between two sides of the management fence: Self-motivation versus Supervisor motivation.

Which is more powerful? Are people more inclined to be motivated by their own expectations or that of their leader?

Pygmalion (or Rosenthal) Effect – the power of other’s expectations. This theory states that people will perform in ways that are consistent with the expectations of their supervisors.

Galatea Effect – the power of self-expectations. If I believe I can do it, then I am more likely to succeed.

Based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his ivory creation, Galatea, these theories show the phenomenon where higher expectations (those of our bosses, or ourselves) lead to better performance.

So, which one works better?

You’ll hear arguments for both camps. Everyone has an opinion about which is more powerful. So why can’t we use a combination of both?

As leaders, it’s our job to see the potential in our followers, not their current status. We believe that they can achieve more than they realize and we encourage them to fulfill those goals. It’s also our job to help them see themselves as victors. As individuals capable of incredible things.

The greater the confidence we show in their abilities, the greater confidence they will have in themselves.

We might not always be able to control how our team sees themselves, but we can do our best to display our encouragement (even in non-verbal cues). A nod, smile, thumbs-up, note of encouragement, and public praise can do wonders to boosting the confidence of our team members.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Creating a Cultural Brand

Scott Cook, the co-founder of Intuit (the company credited with QuickBooks and TurboTax), once remarked, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” This has become true in our social media-driven environment where one positive or negative post can go viral in a matter of moments, and the fate of a multi-million dollar organization hangs in the balance. Public relations have moved to the hands of the consumers, and its power has gone on to include the volunteer experience. Word-of-mouth has taken on an entirely new meaning in the 21st century, with people now having their very own platform to share their opinions and experiences. Power has shifted to the consumer, and their findings are not always accurate facts, but more often, perceptions from their unique tunnel visioned encounter.

It doesn’t matter if they only see one portion of an organization, once they’ve interacted with some section, their opinion has been made for better or worse and they are armed with their conclusions to share with friends, family, and followers. If this sounds depressing, don’t worry. Just as one bad experience can go viral the same goes for a good encounter! One good interaction with a guest can have the same viral effect, spreading as they share their experience on social media and through word-of-mouth.

Volunteers are often on the front lines of guest relations, so it’s up to them to create customer service experiences that lead to positive buzz. A good experience will slowly begin to build the brand up positively in customer’s minds; a negative interaction will have the opposite effect. Marketers tell us that one way to develop brand loyalty is by encouraging customers to create an emotional attachment. Researchers have found that an emotional brand attachment may be formed when a particular brand becomes a part of an individual’s self-concept. In other words, people get emotionally attached to organizations who embody characteristics that they either desire or believe they already have. When people identify emotionally with a brand, they cultivate deeper loyalty ties. As volunteers, we have the opportunity to create positive, emotional experiences. We are in unique positions to interact with guests face-to-face, and that personal interaction is where emotional connections take place. The more memorable encounters we provide to people, the stronger the bond becomes to the organization.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Getting Attention in a Noisy World

It’s pretty noisy out there.

Marketing experts say that most Americans are exposed to at least 4,000 ads every day. Organizations are continually competing for our attention. Brands are everywhere we look, shouting messages to our subconscious without us even noticing.

To adjust to the constant barrage of images and ads, most of us have become desensitized to them. We glaze over when commercials pop up on our screens, ignore banners tailored to us online, and hardly notice the t-shirts and caps promoting x-brand or y-organization streaming passed us on our commute.

In such a loud environment, how do you make your organization stand out as a fun and fulfilling place to volunteer?

1. Be true to your values. People are drawn to organizations who share their passions. If you are out there doing what you love, trust me…people will find you. Don’t get distracted by fads or gimmicks, when you focus on who you are and what you believe in, and the right people will naturally catch the vision and join. The added benefit is that you won’t attract people who aren’t interested. You’ll have an army of individuals who are just as excited about your mission as you are. 

2. Focus on your uniqueness. There’s a reason you’re in business. You’re good at what you do. Even if there are others similar to you in your community, you have a particular way of doing things. Focus on the areas that make you stand out from the crowd and highlight those strengths to your audience.

3. Be interactive. Social media gives us a direct channel to potential volunteers. It takes some time, but having a strong presence online will keep you at the front of people’s mind, which is precisely where we want to be. They might not be ready to serve now, but when they are ready, we want our organization to be the first place they think of serving. Interacting online is more than just posting pictures and inspiring messages. It’s important to build relationships. Liking follower’s posts, commenting, and even sending direct messages will help you authentically connect with your audience.

4. Show what you do. It’s not enough to tell people what your organization does. We’ve become desensitized to words, and it’s easy to drown out someone talking about a good cause. Visuals stimulate people. Videos, GIFs, and images are taking their place in modern communication. Research shows that video will represent more than 81% of all consumer Web traffic by 2021. There’s no better way to express your brand than by showing people exactly what it is you do.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Clash of Culture

We had a leader in our church named Joe. Joe was really great at systems. He could look down a pew and know exactly how many seats were left and could position it so twelve people could fit in a space meant for ten. Joe had a wonderful talent for organizing and led our usher team with great efficiency, but he had a major issue. He wasn’t connecting to the rest of the volunteers. Try as he might, the other ushers who served with him would not respond to his efforts. From all appearances, Joe was a skilled leader, but he was unable to rally volunteers to his cause (despite their shared vision and goals).

Where was the disconnect?

Joe’s leadership style wasn’t compatible with the culture of the church.

One of the main reasons people serve is for the chance to connect and interact with others. Volunteering at church is a social experience, where people take the time to encourage and share with each other, and serving teams almost function like a small group where people are invested in team member’s lives. The no-nonsense leadership style of Joe was clashing with the very purpose of our volunteer team.

Time and again, I see this happen not only in churches but in organizations. Someone is given a position of authority but their leadership style does not mesh with the culture of the company, and EVERYONE feels it.

So, what was the solution?

You can’t exactly fire a volunteer. It’s one thing to reprimand a staff member, but when it comes to replacing someone who is working for free everything gets more complicated. This tension between the leader’s behavior and the culture of the organization will eventually cause your system to break. Either the culture will slowly shift toward the leader’s behavior, or the leader must conform to the culture of the organization. Church leaders have to be proactive, or the culture will change without them. How do you change the leadership style and behaviors of your leaders to match the culture of the church?

Evaluate your Environment

Before trying to change a leader’s behaviors or leadership style, we first need to understand the culture of our church so we can direct their actions to line up with our desired environment. What is your culture? Friendly, inviting,

Shift Expectations

Leadership development is context sensitive, so there is no one perfect style that works for all churches. What works for one church may not translate to the next. This is why understanding YOUR culture and YOUR leaders are so important. Find out what works for your church and focus on a leadership program that meets their unique needs. Don’t give in to the temptation to mimic what a successful church is doing. They may have a great system, but remember that their culture is a mixture of environment, people, beliefs, background and a ton of other contributing factors that work with their leadership style. Your situation is unique to your people and copying a style that doesn’t match your situation is not only harder for your leaders, but can be unhealthy for your church.

Create a Coaching Culture

As the leadership in the church, you set the thermostat of the rest of the organization. Believe it or not, your leaders are taking their cues from you. Who you are as a leader influences the culture of the church and trickles down to the rest of your team. How can your leaders mimic your style if they are not spending time with you? Whether you have a volunteer team of 2, 200, or 2,000, your top leadership needs to be actively engaged and spending quality time with key leaders in the ministry.


Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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The Reason I Volunteer – Ashley

Ashley is next in the spotlight in our #TheReasonIVolunteer campaign.

This girl is a powerhouse in the most understated way possible. Not only does she work a full-time job at a church, but Ashley is currently finishing up her MBA as well. As an undergrad, Ashley majored in English and minored in Music. She volunteers at her church in the orchestra, playing the violin.

Here is Ashley’s WHY:

“I serve through the music ministry because God gave me a gift. Serving and sharing it with others is a way I say thank you to Him for giving it to me. The problem I sometimes have is forgetting who gets the glory. Usually, when I forget and get wrapped up in MY talent, He “allows” something to happen, like, my mic not to work for a spoken word-violin duo performance, or me completely forgetting what notes I’m supposed to be playing during a worship service. He alone should get the glory, and when He does, no one using any gift He has given them will ever be put to shame. I always want to be used in whatever capacity. Right now, it’s through music.”

The more stories like Ashley’s that we hear, the more we get inspired to make the most of our skills and gifts! Her interest and knowledge of music led her to give back, and she consistently keeps her focus on what’s important. Ashley gave a great reminder that volunteering is NOT ABOUT US. It’s all about serving God and others. A simple concept, but so easy to forget.

Thanks, Ashley for the fun opportunity to hang out with you and hear your story!

If you’re enjoying the #TheReasonIVolunteer series, be sure to comment below and let us know. Follow along with our campaign with #IAmVolunteerU #Volunteeru on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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The Reason I Volunteer – Silvia from Dorcas Ministry

On our social media, we’ve recently begun a campaign called #TheReasonIVolunteer turning the spotlight on some terrific volunteers serving in their communities. (By the way, if you haven’t connected with us online be sure to click on the links below!). It’s been a fun way to hear stories of real-life heroes who donate their time and skills to make our world a better place!

Our very first post features a dear friend of mine, Silvia.

I wish I had time to go into detail about Silvia’s life exploits and her past as an entrepreneur selling commercial cleaning supplies, renting bicycles in Mexico, and being an extra in a movie, but alas, with our limited time I’m focusing only on her most recent endeavor as a volunteer for Dorcas Ministry.

Dorcas Ministry is an incredible group that repurposes pillowcases into dresses for little girls in developing countries. These beautiful dresses have been sent to children in El Salvador, Ecuador, Nepal, Poland, Mexico, and Togo.

Silvia explains, “I like to use my gifts (sewing) to help others. We have a responsibility to use our skills for more than just ourselves. I like knowing that doing something as simple as sewing is going to make a difference to a girl and her family. Plus it’s fun!”

Here is one of the precious little girls in Nepal who received one of Dorcas Ministry’s dresses! This sweet girl and her mother were so happy the photographer Alex, couldn’t help but capture the moment.

Just one example of the far-reaching impact a volunteer can have!

Keep an eye out for more of our #TheReasonIVolunteer posts in the upcoming weeks! And follow along with our campaign with #IAmVolunteerU #Volunteeru on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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Recruiting LIKE A BOSS

One of the most frequent questions we get asked at Volunteer U is, “How do I get more volunteers?”

This is a common issue; especially for churches and nonprofits where non-paid individuals make up a majority of the positions. Sadly, although leaders know the importance of recruitment, it is usually one of the very last tasks on their busy to-do list. What leaders don’t always realize, is that a little bit of strategizing and effort now can save a lot of stress later on. Having a solid recruitment plan in place will keep a steady flow of volunteers coming through the pipeline.

Below are the three steps of recruitment and the three keys to an effective recruitment strategy.

STEP ONE. Explain the Need

This is where your salesmanship should come out. Spare no details. A flair for the dramatic is helpful here too. Even a monotonous, dirty task like cleaning the parking lot can sound exciting if you put the right spin on it! Serve your community, build friendships, and help keep our parking lot clean! Sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a few hours Saturday morning.

STEP TWO. Prove why THEY are needed

People want to know that they are needed. When you recruit, you need to make a case for why they are important. When we ask people to serve, everyone automatically believes someone better qualified will step in. We need to show volunteers that everyone is needed and can contribute. It’s also important to make people invest emotionally. Explain what you need and how their unique gifts and skills can make an impact.

STEP THREE. Call to Action

Our call to action should be simple and to the point. Ask for help with a specific project or encourage people to come to your volunteer orientation. Give them one simple step that they can take right away.

Most churches are so desperate to get help, that they try to make the volunteer process as easy as possible. I think that’s a mistake. We want to put a few steps in place that will act as filters. We’re not just looking for anyone. We’re looking for the right people. Trust me, it’s much better to be searching for someone to fill a spot, than having to clean up a mistake.

We need to build in some safeties to help make sure we get the right people in the right roles. Background checks should be standard practices for anyone working with children or youth, but asking people to become church members, or attend a mandatory training/orientation will help weed out those who aren’t committed.

3 Keys of Volunteer Recruitment

#1 Put Your Current Volunteers To Work

Recruiting doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. It should be built into the culture of your organization. Current volunteers should be your biggest advocates. There’s nothing that can compare to word-of-mouth advertising. 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues [1].

#2 Hold Volunteer Fairs

Two of the biggest reasons people tell us they don’t volunteer are 1. They don’t think they’re needed. 2. They think someone else will do it. People won’t know what you need until you let them know. Let them know all the different ways they can serve.

#3 Have a Social Media Presence

Social media has a huge reach. Your organization should have a consistent presence online to generate interest and keep people engaged. 58% of consumers share positive experiences with a company on social media and also ask their network opinions about brands [2]. This is your chance to handcraft a perception of your organization.


[1].  Nielsen (2013, September 17). Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from

[2] SDL Survey Reveals Consumers Want Brands to Offer Consistent Experience (2013, May 15). Retrieved July 24 2017.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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70, Twenty, & 10. How to Train Volunteers Informally.

You may have already heard of the 70:20:10 Model. Originally created by Lombardo, and Eichinger at the Center for Creative Leadership, this 1980s leadership development theory suggests that individuals get 70% of their knowledge from challenging assignments (experience), 20% from developmental relationships, and 10% from formal training/education.

If this is true, 90% of our volunteer’s education is informal. Their knowledge of your organization, how to perform their tasks, and how to develop as leaders is mostly learned through observation and in-the-moment performances. They are learning as they go, taking both the good and bad experiences and turning those into informative memories to use in the future.

It makes you think…are we intentionally developing our volunteers during the hustle of services? If most of their knowledge is coming from job-related experiences, are we doing our best to make those experiences hand-tailored lessons that drive home the culture of our organization?

Since people are learning “on the floor” we have the incredible opportunity to train volunteers in an informal setting. One of the best ways to do this is through a mentoring program. The term mentoring program probably implies more formality than it should.

Basically, we want to pair a more experienced volunteer with a new one. The newbie will get the chance to connect with and learn from their experienced counterpart, and the more seasoned volunteer will have an opportunity to stretch as a leader and pass on specific lessons that the organization wants to press on their team.

This covers the 70% learned from experience and 20% learned from interactions with others. We can’t ignore that 10% of formal training though. Don’t underestimate the power of a volunteer orientation class. The formal class setting at the beginning of a volunteer’s journey sets the tone for the rest of their time with the organization and it’s the perfect opportunity to really drive home your organizational culture, verbiage, history, values, and “the way you do things.” Being intentional in the development of your volunteers will pay off big-time when you realize you have a volunteer staff who are firmly focused on your vision and continually growing into better leaders.


[1] Lombardo, M.M. & Eichinger, R.W. (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner. Minneapolis: Lominger.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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A Leader’s Guide to Building Trust

Leaders will need to prove themselves trustworthy before workers will feel comfortable enough to allow themselves to be led. The only way to establish trust is through time. The only problem is, time is something that leaders (especially young leaders, with no proven track record) feel they can't afford.

But as anxious as we may be to develop fantastic relationships with our followers and create the perfect team right away, the truth is great leader-follower relationships usually are years in the making.

Trust is difficult to gain but incredibly easy to lose. Here are four ways to speed up the trust-building process with your followers.

1. Showing Consistency.

It’s a steady trend over time. It’s repetitive actions. You make a promise, and you follow through. You make a promise, and you follow through. You make a promise, and you follow through. Every time. The same pattern. Until it is expected. Assumed. Until there is no doubt that your word is always supported by your actions.

2. Meeting Expectations.

In every relationship, there is some level of expectation. Whether realistic or not, these expectations are there. When we’re working to build trust with followers, we have to be ready to meet the anticipation of our followers. In the leader-follower relationship, each expects the other to perform their role (whether those expectations are vocalized or not) without being monitored. Where most people run into trouble, is when those expectations are assumed by one party and not the other. Open communication is vital to making sure all expectations are met.

3. Removing Uncertainty.

The enemy of trust is ambiguity. When people are unsure, it seeds fear which in turn leads to doubt. The best way to keep building a relationship of trust early on with followers is to remove their uncertainties. This means paying attention. Leaders should always be listening (and paying attention!) to conversations with followers to catch wind of any doubts. It's not enough to identify concerns; you need to address them.

4. Living Authentically.

The world is changing. Gone are the days of leaders pretending to be perfect or having all the answers. Followers prefer real to super. In fact, research shows that people are more attracted to competent leaders after they make a little blunder. In psychology, this is called the Pratfall Effect, and it just goes to show that people look for ways to connect. They’re looking for leaders who are relatable. Real. A hero they can look up to because although the leader has shown herself to be fallible, she has learned to overcome. Authentic leaders build trust.

Time is a necessary ingredient in any relationship, but with these four tricks, you'll be on the fast-track to connecting with your followers.

As a leader, are you being intentional in building trust with your followers BEFORE you expect them to follow you?


Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Embracing Conflict

If you’re like me, you tend to shy away from conflict. In fact, I used to try to ignore it altogether. Distracting people who were mad became an art form for this peacemaking middle child.

I finally learned the positive power of conflict when I did something that was completely unnatural for me…I embraced it.

Here I was facilitating a group discussion that suddenly took an aggressive turn. One of the participants had been interrupted several times by another group member, and she finally snapped. The two sat facing off and then BOOM. An explosion of what I can only assume were pent up emotions from several weeks of working together.

The tension-filled moment made me feel a mixture of dread and worried energy, as my mind quickly ran through different ways to diffuse the situation.

As I nervously looked around the room, I saw similar expressions of discomfort. The friendly eye-contact that had been the norm so far in our little meeting place abruptly ceased as everyone in the room suddenly found their fingernails, notebook, or watch of vast interest.

The tension was so thick in the office it was palatable.

I took a deep breath and went against every natural instinct in my body. Instead of ignoring the pressure, I leaned into it. “This is interesting, you guys. Let’s keep going with this.”

The next twenty minutes were extremely uncomfortable…and remarkably productive.

Here’s why conflict can be healthy for your team:

It highlights underlying dangers. Conflict is typically a symptom, and if you ignore it, you will never find the disease at its root. Small spats of discord are usually red flags that there is something else going on. You may need to dig a little, but if you ask the right questions, you might find that a team member is going through a difficult situation at home, or perhaps that someone is in the wrong position.

Tension is necessary for growth. You don’t get taller without some growing pains; you can’t start a fire without a little friction. It’s all part of the growing process. What should really worry us is when there are no issues, no disagreements, no opposing forces. That’s a sign of stagnation and may mean that we are missing out on innovation, creativity, and chances to branch out.

It’s an opportunity for team members to bond. Nothing makes or breaks relationships like a little disagreement. Typically, working through disputes brings people closer together and ends up strengthening the team bond as they learn to work through differences.

When I talk about embracing conflict, I don’t mean to create drama, pit team members against each other, or incite unnecessary emotional outbursts. Instead, I’m suggesting that when conflict shows up in our organization, we should take it for what it truly is, an opportunity to grow and create a healthy, vibrant team.

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