“We are a community of possibilities, not a community of problems. Community exists for the sake of belonging and takes its identity from the gifts, generosity, and accountability of its citizens. It is not defined by its fears, its isolation, or its penchant for retribution. We currently have all the capacity, expertise, programs, leaders, regulations, and wealth required to end unnecessary suffering and create an alternative future.” Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging
We conclude our dive into each of the ten competencies of servant leadership as defined by Robert Greenleaf. Appropriately, this servant leadership competency - Building Community - is a logical / positive conclusive outcome to a driven servant leader and organization he/she leads.
Greenleaf said, "...to (re)build community as a viable life form for large numbers of people is for enough servant-leaders to show the way, not by mass movements, but by each servant-leader demonstrating his or her unlimited liability for a quite specific community-related group.”
According to Larry Spears of The Spears Center "The servant leader senses that much has been lost in recent human history as a result of the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives. This awareness causes the servant leader to seek to identify some means for building community among those who work within a given institution. Servant leadership suggests that true community can be created among those who work in businesses and other institutions."
Perhaps it's NOT accidental Greenleaf reserved the Building Community competency last as a way to indicate, IF servant leaders and their organizations focus on the first nine competencies -
Which bears repeating from the previous post - which is why Greenleaf identified a simple "Best Test" to validate a servant leader and the organization's servant leadership:
Recent survey data related to Americans and job satisfaction or often referred to as "engagement" - the connection and commitment employees exhibit toward an organization - indicates that community is lacking. According to Gallup's 2017 State of the American Workplace Report 7 out of 10 are not engaged at work - which by the way is not much different than 2016...matter of fact, since 2000 the average of "actively engaged" employees has hovered between 26% and 33%.
In a previous blog - LEADership...ON Purpose! - the work of Dr. Vince Molinaro and his book The Leadership Contract: The Fine Print to Becoming an Accountable Leader was highlighted - in it he identified COMMUNITY as one of the four tenets of leadership. "If you can create a strong community of leaders in your organization, it will become your ultimate differentiator." he says.
So, until community is established INSIDE - it will be challenging to make an impact OUTSIDE.
Lack of Community INSIDE the Workplace Has a Dollar Cost...
Employee engagement indicates productive work behaviors AND financial outcomes. Gallup found that disengaged employees in the United States cost the country between $450 and $550 billion each year. Gallup’s research compared companies from the highest and lowest quartiles of engagement levels. The 2017 study showed companies in the highest quartile experience 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability among many other positive metrics resulting from higher engagement levels.
Community OUTSIDE the Workplace
A natural extension of servant leadership will be the establishment of community OUTSIDE the workplace because - at the core - servant leaders and servant led companies have an external view of the world and look to impact the outside world in a positive way. Yet, servant leaders and their organizations MUST work hard to establish a COLLABORATIVE building community approach. In other words, they can't do it in a silo or in parallel.
As Peter Block, referenced above who opened up this post, American author, consultant, and speaker in the areas of organization development, community building, and civic engagement, noted in his book Community: The Structure of Belonging “One aspect of our fragmentation is the gaps between sectors of our cities and neighborhoods; businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government operate mostly in their own worlds. Each piece is working hard on its own purpose, but parallel effort added together does not make a community. Our communities are separated into silos; they are a collection of institutions and programs operating near one another but not overlapping or touching. This is important to understand because it is this "dividedness" that makes it so difficult to create a more positive or alternative future—especially in a culture that is much more interested in individuality and independence than in interdependence. The work is to overcome this fragmentation.”
What Community Looks Like...
In the simplest form community boils down to shared purpose, vision, mission, values, and authentic respect for others. Think of the golden rule...“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
In a DIVERSE community is this possible where people may not have shared purpose and values? YES if the shared purpose, vision, mission, and values are rooted in an EXTERNAL view and NOT an INTERNAL view - in other words, there is no self-interest.
Some examples of how Building Community is applied within the company:
There appears to be a correlation between servant leadership / community building! At the the highest level - ENGAGEMENT, IMPROVED PERFORMANCE and POSITIVE OUTCOMES. At the more granular level:
1. Elevated employee engagement - Companies have data showing that employees who volunteer score higher in morale, engagement, pride and/or productivity than employees who don’t. Source: Points of Light
2. Added financial value - A Corporate Executive Board Company study showed that, on average, every employee who participates in corporate community engagement activities adds $2,400 of value to the company as a result of decreased turnover and increased employee engagement. Similarly, a Deloitte survey revealed "millennials are twice as likely to be very satisfied with their career progression when they have the opportunity to volunteer through their employer."
3. Value in skills-based volunteering - According to True Impact and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "specialized support" AKA "skills-based" volunteering "can provide five times greater value than traditional "extra hands" volunteering." Skills-based volunteering not only taps into existing skills but also helps employee strengthen and develop new skills. That could be why skills-based volunteering is taking off. Note: research from HP, found that "employees who participate in skills-based volunteering are even more satisfied and experience an even greater bounce in morale from volunteering than those who only do "extra-hands" volunteering."
4. Positive Social Change - Companies raise their voice to advance social change. Experts like Harvard Business School corporate strategy guru Michael Porter now advocate for community engagement as a strategic means of generating financial returns.
5. Purpose Aligned with Profit - Increasingly, companies are folding community engagement into their core business and supporting social change via their own business success by connecting their community engagement work to key business functions, including marketing/PR, sales, skill-development, recruiting or diversity and inclusion.
6. Deeper Connections - Companies with this external viewpoint have forged deeper connections with their shareholders, customers and employees; and as a result their social impact efforts have strengthened not only their communities but their businesses as well.
Sources: 50 Companies That Crush Giving Back - Forbes | Dare to Serve - Book by Cheryl Bachelder
Oh Yeah, Be Sure to Celebrate!
Building Community - a STRONG | tightly woven community - takes blood, sweat, tears...it is NOT easy so this practice of celebration is critical! Depending on the challenges of establishing community - ANY PROGRESS should be celebrated. Any setback should be learned from.
Acknowledge others - their gifts, talents, strengths - the accomplishments. AND yes, the failures! Sara Blakely once said, "My dad encouraged us to fail growing up. He would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome--failure is not trying. Don't be afraid to fail."
If there's failure, learn from it and move on! (Celebrate!)
Execute the other nine servant leadership competencies well and witness the positive outcomes of BUILDING COMMUNITY!
My best to your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach, Facet5 and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation.
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About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
Based out Roam - Buckhead - 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Suite 1400 (2nd Floor), Atlanta, GA 30305
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