How volunteering abroad offers effective leadership training

    Article by Ami Gill

    Ami Gill

    Posted: December 6, 2019

    What qualities come to mind when you think of an effective leader? Great listener? Inspirational? Visionary? Qualities like these develop over time, partially through effective leadership training. Volunteering abroad is a great way to get hands-on leadership training experience. 

    Even the best leadership training in the corporate world can be isolating and somewhat tedious. Volunteering abroad will give you hands-on experience in leadership and training somewhere different. 

    You’ll be challenged in ways that are only talked about in a typical leadership and training session.


     You’ll work with people from around the world

    One of the benefits of leadership training is learning to listen respectfully to others’ opinions. What better way to train yourself in respecting different views than by immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture? 

    Every day on a volunteering program, you’ll be working alongside local communities. Some people may not speak the same language as you, and will most likely have different customs.

    The best leadership training experiences will guide you on how to be an active listener. As a volunteer in a different country, you’ll have to put aside preconceived notions and actively listen to and engage with the communities you’re working with. This helps to ensure that your volunteer project is successful. 



    Whether you’re teaching sports to children or volunteering in public health education sessions, you will need to listen to what these communities actually need. 

    As a leader, you always need to be aware of what your team needs in order to be successful. Developing excellent listening skills is something you can take into any leadership position.

    You’ll learn to solve problems effectively 


    A leader is always accountable. Whether your team’s outcomes are positive or not, you are the one who is responsible. As they say, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Another one of the benefits of leadership training is developing effective problem-solving skills. 

    Working towards a solution after a setback can be tough. But, while volunteering abroad, you’ll develop the thick skin needed to overcome challenges.  

    For example, while volunteering on a marine conservation project you will see the effect humans have on the ocean. You’ll work with local communities towards restoring ecosystems, and implement long-term solutions. Being part of the solution, and helping to problem-solve for the future is something any effective leader needs to experience. 



    Combining effective listening skills and your problem-solving ability, you’ll have all the makings of a great leader. Imagine getting all these skills while spending your free time swimming in the South Pacific Ocean

    You’ll gain internationally-recognised qualifications

    Everything that has been discussed so far is part of a great experience that will help you fine-tune the soft skills of leadership. But one edge a training in leadership course may have is a recognised certification. Don’t worry, GVI has you covered.



    As a volunteer on a GVI project, there are some great certifications you can add to your volunteering experience. From PADI diving to FGASA-accredited field guiding, there are many qualifications and awards for you to choose from. 

    GVI also offers youth leadership training. British teens can do the Duke of Edinburgh program outside of the UK. It is also possible to gain GVI’s ILM Youth Leadership certificate, which adds depth for any teen on GVI’s teen programs. Effective youth leadership training is a great way for younger people to gain the benefits of leadership training. 

    For every other volunteer, you can add an ILM-endorsed leadership certificate to any project over four weeks with GVI. The ILM-endorsed certificate allows you to combine the theoretical and practical elements of training in leadership. This means you’ll walk away with hands-on experience in leadership, as well as a recognised certificate. 



    Volunteering offers the benefits of leadership training while offering hands-on experience. You’ll put your listening skills to the test as you immerse yourself in a new culture. You’ll problem-solve effectively as you work with a community towards their long-term goals. These are all things a great leader needs. 

    So, why sit in a course that talks about the skills to be a great leader when you can sign up as a volunteer, and actually practice those skills in amazing places?

    Ami Gill is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.