Community Fuels Culture

Building good community led by employees could solve many problems leaders struggle with today.  We see our organizational leaders working tirelessly on how to improve engagement of their people.  The evidence is mounting that shows that the answers will not come from the leaders, but from the people they are leading.   My hope is that those struggling with the question will be open to empowering employees to build community if they are unsatisfied with their current results.

In a recent article, author Christie Lindor makes a bold assertion that people don’t leave companies, they leave organizational cultures.   I think she is right to reframe the problem more broadly because the solution lies in more than just one person being better manager as we hear some argue.

Today, I would like to examine the importance of community in this equation.  Most people would agree that a good community is made up of people drawn together to form a safe place where they can both contribute and receive benefit.

Therefore, good community is the life blood of a good culture. 

A community is like an aquarium.

When our daughter was young she wanted fish so we researched the minimal requirements to support a few fish.   We purchased an aquarium.  Afterwards,  we realized there is actually work involved in keeping fish healthy!   Sad to say we lost a few along the way.   One can’t simply fill the tank and put the fish in and expect them to survive for long.

Activate the filter

Fish cannot live long in an impure environment.   People can’t either.  A community can act as a filter that removes organizational impurities.  With the right mix of community groups that meet the needs of its members and provide opportunities for employees to serve, the cleaner the environment.  Positive energy is generated when people across the organization mix together and the result should not be underestimated.   Within community they can make unexpected contributions while enjoying a reprieve from the politics and power struggles that tend to be unseen, but felt.  Take a look at Josh Gordon’s, The Energy Bus for more on how keeping a positive outlook produces better results.

Infuse oxygen

Fish need oxygen to survive.  Over time oxygen in the water becomes  depleted and must be restored.  It is the community that provides the refreshing for people.   Without community, we see culture degrade and collapse.   Why?  Because an organization left to itself, cannot support all the demands of clients, owners, and employees without the majority of employees feeling purpose and connection.   Life and work without hope is not sustainable over time.   A good community shoots this oxygen into the water.  This equates to inviting people to share their unique gifts and talents at work in new and creative ways.

Provide space to grow

Engaging  contributors requires safe spaces for them to grow.  In addition to engaging people on their terms, a good community gives people such a place.  Sometimes this could be found as part of the job, but many times people need access to laboratories to experiment and grow in leading.   Community building is one of our best options that give people that care the opportunity they deserve and the mechanism to make a difference.

The Importance of Community

Community is a living thing. The reason it is important is because we are it. Whether we accept it or not, it is our choice to make our work environment healthy or leave it to run its course. Community work is worth it and we desperately need more community builders. People need more safe places; healthy places.  Likeminded people can make that happen together.

What is the alternative?

Organizational culture declines without community.  Our best people leave and those that are left suffer until the organization is revived or falls to ruin.    Become a community builder and we can do it together.  Our people need you!

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow.