How to develop your team by providing leadership stretch

As Dojos get older, thinking about sustainability matters more and more. We know that a key challenge for older clubs is ensuring a wider team of mentors or volunteers are able to manage different aspects of a Dojo, so that a Dojo is not dependent on one person to run.

Champions can help mentors develop leadership skills and take on more responsibilities of the club. This has been shown to empower volunteers. Spending time together as a group, learning about each other, trusting and giving mentors the space to try new things means that the Dojo is not only a place of learning for children, but for adults too!

Determine the skill sets needed for managing your Dojo

Every Dojo is different. The size, age and structure of your Dojo will all impact on the skills needed to manage your club. These may be soft skills, such as the ability to speak comfortably to parents, or work as part of a team. They could also be technical skills, such as ability to lead a session, manage your ticketing platform or assess what content would suit your Dojos needs. Is there any other skills you would like to have in your team? Think of all the aspects of the club and make a list of skills.

Identify volunteers interested in developing these skills

You can do this informally by talking with volunteers individually during a session or by meeting up as a group at the start of a term or year. Everyone has different time commitments, strengths, weaknesses, and personal goals. Aligning the Dojo as an opportunity to develop a skill they are interested in means they will make the time to come to every session, as not only are they giving back — they are also gaining a new skill set too!

Look for stretch activities that can close any skill gaps 

Once you and a volunteer have identified an area together that they want to work on, you can give them more responsibility in that area. They could:

  • Lead a session on a particular topic they know very well
  • Create the next Dojo event on your ticketing system
  • Set up the space and welcome parents and attendees

Often the hardest part for champions here is stepping back and letting others take over the activity. Explain what you usually do to the volunteer, give them an opportunity to ask questions and then trust them to do it their way. Remember to be patient and encouraging as trying new things can often be daunting.

Trust is again the word that comes to mind. Giving space for the new person to do things, even in ways that are different from the way you would do them” – Carmelo, Former champion of CoderDojo Bologna

Assessing the activity

When the volunteer has completed the activity thank them for their help. It is useful to chat about what did and did not go well to help both of you learn from the experience so they can continue to develop that and other skills.

Have fun!

By encouraging others to develop their skills and responsibilities you are helping empower more people in your local community and create something sustainable. While developing others’ skills remember to use it as an opportunity to learn about each other and have fun!

For more insights into the reasons volunteers get involved in CoderDojo and and how to encourage buy-in by giving opportunities for regular feedback. 

If you need to step down as a champion or want to add someone to co-champion your Dojo see here.

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