In a recent post, I wrote about the role leaders take in encouraging community in their organizations. I appreciate all of you who added comments to the post with additional ideas for creating community.
How important are leaders in buidling community?
Wally Bock made an interesting assertion that leaders have a marginal role in creating community, since communities are formed by the voluntary actions of the people involved. While I agree that leaders cannot singlehandedly “create” community, leaders in a group can positively encourage the growth of community through commitment and dedication.
Your role or position as a leader may give you a false sense of community.
Community is formed when people are interconnected in relationships.Yet your position as a leader in a group may hinder your ability to gauge the connectedness of the others in the group. After all, YOU are well connected; working and interacting with many others in the group, you certainly feel a sense of belonging. You may observe others in the group to determine how well they are interconnected, but even this may not be an accurate assessment.
Ask people in the group if they feel connected as part of the community.
Why not ask? Ask the people in your group if they feel that they belong. Ask them if they feel connected to others in community. Though people long to be connected in community with others, interconnectedness and a sense of belonging are often elusive. Many people feel lost in a crowd, isolated even when surrounded by others.
Help people take ownership of the group.
One way to help people gain a sense of belonging and connectedness that leads to community is to invite them to contribute to the group. Encourage them to take responsibility for creating community. As people exercise their gifts and abilities, they will gain a sense of ownership for the group. As their engagement increases, so will their sense of belonging — once spectators on the sidelines, now team members participating in community.
This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
I don’t often disagree with Wally, but I don’t for a second believe that leaders have a marginal role in creating community. Particularly those who are truly servant leaders, who are leading in service to others. You’ve captured the essence of why this is true very well. Thanks for a beautifully written post.
I don’t normally disagree with Mary Jo, but I’ll continue to on this one.
I think you and Mary Jo are accurate if the community is fairly small or a larger, intentional community. But, from my perspective, most of the world’s communities form spontaneously with very little leadership impact.
Wow – interesting post. I think that reality lies in the polar opposite. What I mean by this is that a good leader may not necessarily be able to develop community, if the group members are not willing. Also, a group desiring community may not be able to gel and synergize if it has a bad leader.
I think the best chance of creating community lies in a group desiring community being led by a capable leader.
A leader is essential to making the group work and that leader must really connect with the members. I agree that a leader might have a false sense of community just because they are “the leader”. Members may suck up to the leader for many reasons and this could cause the leader to think they are part of the community, when they really perceived as just “the boss”. A leader must be sincere, honest, and open with group members so that a true community will be established.