Want to know what it’s like to lead a Habitat for Humanity team? We spoke to one of our amazing team leaders, Ray Sutton, who led a team of 15 volunteers to Cambodia earlier this year.
Why did you choose to lead a Habitat build?
I had done a number of volunteering projects both in Australia and overseas before I went to Mongolia with Habitat in 2013. I found the experience personally rewarding and was impressed with the volunteering model where you work alongside the family that will be receiving the home. It was great to see the results of your hard work and the positive impact it has on the family over the week. I also found it was rewarding working with like-minded people and found it a very well supported volunteering experience. I decided I would like to do it again but thought I could also contribute some of my leadership and management experience next time, so decided to volunteer as a team leader.
What were your highlights as a team leader?
I can not list just one highlight. The dedication ceremony on the final day of building was amazing. You celebrate with the team and family all of the hard work that you have contributed, not only during that week, but also over the many months of planning and coordinating. I experienced a great sense of reward and satisfaction seeing the difference we had made for the family and also seeing the enjoyment and reward that everyone on the team had experienced. The strength of emotion felt and expressed by all was very powerful and something that will stay with me for a long time. Having great fun each night with the team, which was made up of old and new friends, was also a highlight. This experience allows you to meet people of all different ages, from a range of backgrounds and from all over Australia and the globe. The smiles and laughter that we shared with the children of the community is something I won’t forget, being from Melbourne we had an Aussie Rules football that we kicked around with the kids. I cannot be more grateful for the happiness that we felt during this week which is difficult to translate into words.
What were the challenges as a team leader?
The main challenge was managing my own uncertainty leading up to the build week about whether I could get enough team members, how the team would get along, and how I might manage issues that may arise. As it turned out none of my anxieties were warranted. I felt much more relaxed and relieved after the team meet-and-greet dinner when it was clear that I had a great group of people to support me, and each other, through the week. Managing the budget was a little daunting, but I was well supported by the Habitat volunteer coordinator, who was also a great help through the week.
Would you lead a team again?
Yes, definitely. It has been my most rewarding volunteering experience. Being able to contribute as a team leader has enhanced the build week. Not only do you have the opportunity to make a difference for a family in need but you can also help other team members to get the most out of their volunteering experience.
What tips would you share to other team leaders?
• You only have a week with your team so get to know each team member as quickly as you can.
• Ask plenty of questions of your volunteer coordinator in Australia when planning your build and work closely with the in country coordinator during the build.
• Be very conscious of different skills and abilities of your team and ensure everyone works to, and feels comfortable with, their own expectations, not the expectations of others.
• Have fun and make it enjoyable.
The Global Village team is always looking for exciting new people to lead Global Village teams. This is the perfect opportunity to improve your leadership and team work skills while seeing the world and changing lives.
If you are interested in finding out more on how to become a team leader please you can read more here or email us at [email protected]