When you think of the word “community” what comes to mind? Maybe your neighborhood? The local community center near you? A group of people that meet at a coffee shop each week?
The core of a community, whatever shape it takes, is centered around people. Community is defined as “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.”
Community is innately in our human wiring and shows up in many forms. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, if you look for it, I would guess you naturally find community in one shape or another throughout your days.
Family. Friends. School. Work. Peers. Church. Sports. Music Groups. Study Groups. Meetups. Networking. Events. Concerts. Associations. Online Social Groups (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc.).
Where else do you see community live out in your life?
We saw community birth a new feeling for all of us during the last couple of years as we faced the pandemic sweeping through our lives. The normal strains of community we experienced on a day-to-day basis shifted and we had to change how we viewed this thing called community. The world looked for new ways to connect with each other virtually and unique ways to connect even though we weren’t together. Because community is a part of our wiring we craved it in different ways.
So what is it about putting people together that is so important? Why do we have this need? Maybe it’s collaboration? Affirmation? Sense of sharing? Needs being met? Ideas being shared? Hopes & dreams elevated? Insecurities supported into strengths? Empowerment? Encouragement? Growth? Being challenged to new heights?
When you meet with other people as a group, what drives your desire to be with them? Each of us likely has different needs that get met, but in the end, the special part of a community is that we all uniquely support each other in ways we cannot support ourselves on our own.
One unique area I’ve seen thread through my own personal life over the years is the community I’ve found through my professional career. Co-workers who collaborate and challenge each other to be better, do better. Peers who become mentors, cheerleaders, and friends building my strengths, inspiring growth, and driving change. These communities became a part of me and have helped shape me to be who I am today. Can you remember some professional communities that helped shape your growth over the years?
How about as a leader, where can you help capture this inspirational world of community with your team? Leading a team has a unique part to play in a community. It’s the adventure of being a part of something while also challenging that same something to grow and make an impact. It means being vulnerable to those you work with. It means inspiring the community around you to be hungry and smart through a humble spirit.
Culture is a hot word these days. Employees are wanting to be a part of a culture that connects with their passions and dreams. Employers want a culture that drives innovation and creativity.
Could culture be the outward expression of community?
If culture is “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent”, then maybe, just maybe, culture could be impacted by the strength of the community we cultivate. Another way of defining culture could be “a group of people who share an identity-forming narrative.” What story are you living out? What narrative is your life breathing into others?
What if we, as leaders, looked to strengthen ourselves with the communities we were a part of? Could we find a group of people that sharpen, challenge, and inspire how we cultivate our hearts, lives, and those we lead? A comrade of peers who know what it’s like to sit in our seat and walk in our shoes?
If this is true, culture and community are going to be even more important to get right as a leader - not only in the people we serve (employees, customers, and partners), but also in ourselves.
If “it’s lonely at the top” is a common description of leading a company, how could a unique community of others just like yourself, help cultivate in you a way to grow and possibly change the course of your company, your perspective on change, and the hearts and minds of those you serve as a leader? Could “lonely” be replaced with “community”?