The power of community
One of the things that has characterised life in my lifetime is an increasing shift away from a physical community. Growing up in my early years, I lived in a cul de sac full of families where we all spent time with each other, in each other’s homes and generally building a sense of community. This changed when I was 11 and we went to live in a street which was a main road in a larger town where community was much harder to establish. And so it has continued through my life as my work took me away from my physical home and I didn’t focus on getting to know my neighbours.
And yet, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve found community through other means – my work, my friendship groups and my volunteer work within a literal Community. I’ve come to realise the significant importance of community as I have advanced in my life whilst also recognising that over the past 40 years in general it seems to have been on the decline.
Now I sense that is changing, as it needs to. Community is an essential part of the human condition – bringing belonging, safety, visibility, friendship, support and so on that comes from being alongside others in more than a purely transactional way. Indigenous tribes have modelled this for millennia.
As we all navigate our current world, finding our ‘community’ seems to be increasingly important as we work out how to ‘see’ each other and support each other in meaningful ways – whether that be pastoral support, activist support or just plain company. Interestingly, community isn’t necessarily a word that is applied to the workplace and yet here more than many other places community could be so powerful.
Leaders who set out to foster climates where community is valued, where people feel a sense of belonging and association are more likely to see stronger collaboration, relationship and partnering within and across the work activities.
Building communities takes time of course but it is also an attitude and mind-set. If we recognise and value the interdependence of life and move on from the need to succeed alone, then we also naturally invite others to be alongside us. To ‘commune’ is to build a strong foundation of interchange and relationship. Imagine how powerful that foundation would be in helping organisations to create the changes needed in our world for the greater good.