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.