Why Turning a Company Into a Community Is The Key Driver of Success in Today’s Business?

Ask different people what are the top skills of modern leaders and you will get different answers.

Much has been said about the importance of leaders and leaderships, but most agree on these fundamental leadership traits of top leaders:

  • Establishing an environment of mutual trust
  • Creating a culture of care, support and encouragement
  • Focusing on clear vision and goals

While all leaders strive to meet the highest of standards, leaders do come in different shapes, personalities, sexes, and experience levels.

But winning at leadership takes practise, which is precisely why the latest Gallup’s State of the American Manager report shows these sobering numbers:

  • (only) 40 percent of managers strongly believe they have opportunities for growth
  • (only) 35 percent of managers are engaged in their work
  • (only) a third of managers (strongly) believe their supervisor is encouraging their development

We find this distressing.

This is a study of 2.5 million teams in 195 countries, that included 27 million employees.The report brings into focus the role that leaders play in creating and shaping the community within the company. 

How do these companies even manage to stay afloat?

In a recent Forbes article, the author shows how and why the right leaders are those who not only help build a better organization, but they support continued success. 

How is this relevant to your company?

The author further shows, emphasizing Robert Greenleaf’s 10 Leadership Characteristics, that building a COMMUNITY (the ability to pull people together for a greater good) is critical for leadership success.

Leadership is an investment in people, which brings us back to the importance of the term: community. 

In a 2008 Harvard Business Review article How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity, the president of Pixar attributes their success to its

“vibrant community where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary, and their passion and accomplishments make the community a magnet for talented people coming out of schools or working at other places.”

Young entrepreneurs today have recognized the importance of being committed to their people, building a sense of community, or in a way, building a family of like-minded, devoted and passionate employees. If a company wants to succeed, it’s critical for leaders to move their focus from an individual initiative to a community.This means that a good leader is personally engaged to engage others.

Why is a community important for success? 

Community is an imperative for an engaged and distributed management. IBM is a great example of how an enthusiastic programmer convinced a middle manager of a great business opportunity, who then formed a team with almost no budget. The initiative eventually found its way to the CEO who encouraged it and IBM got into e-business.

There is more to a company than having a good product or a service. Consumers today are especially interested in company's culture and a philosophy of their brand. Consumers seek engagement, and how can a company promote engagement if its employees feel neglected or undervalued? Strong company's culture has its foundation in the community, and if you need an example for that, think of Google.

A company without a sense of community does not recognize the importance of collaboration. Leaders need to empower collaboration, and they can only accomplish that if they are committed to creating a sense of trust and care. Organizations with high-trust outperform low-trust companies by nearly 300 percent, according to studies. Without trust, which in turn empowers collaboration, companies don’t have the ability to achieve accelerated growth and sustainability.

Innovation is a key driver of success and community is a driving force behind innovation. Today, ideas come from everywhere but only highly-engaged, creative and talented people who recognize the common goal and objective can be innovative. Innovation is a constant process, and companies need innovative thinkers that make innovation happen.  

How can you transform your company into a community?

One needs to search for a useful foundation that can be found within a company. There is always a dedicated team of people who are gathered around the common goal or idea. Moreover, the way to rebuild your company is to focus on building an atmosphere of trust, promoting engagement, and collaboration. This, on the other hand, calls for understanding the importance of a company's culture and leaders who facilitate change, recognizing the value of getting everyone involved. 

Where to start?

Managers

“The intensity with which [middle] managers wanted to protect the long term interests of the company and the welfare of their subordinates surprised me again and again” (In Praise of Middle Managers, HBR, September 2001).

Committed employees

Community building starts with small groups of committed employees. Leaders who don’t respect the importance of each and every person within the company, will set up their business for mediocre results, at best.

Leaders

What worth does a leader have if he or she is not able to respond for the good of the organization and society in a whole? The role of leaders in today’s society has changed; leaders have to focus on helping society grow and develop. 

What is the role of a leader who wishes to build a strong community?

Foster the idea of learning

Good leaders understand the importance of learning, whether formal or informal. There is a great example of how one director of engineering decided to deal with layoffs and business changes and get his management team back on track. Without a budget, he started regular peer-coaching meetings with his team where they shared ideas, solved current challenges, built skills. Eventually, those 90-minute learning methods resulted in launching CoachnigOurselves, peer-coaching programs for managers, now in 8 languages around the world. 

Support sharing experience and encourage reflection

A good leader understands that leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better (Bill Bradley). Employees need to understand the company's strategy, their consumers, customers, one another, and they need to reflect on the work they do, as these reflections trigger innovation. A small initiative that can turn into great, big strategy can come from all sorts of people, as the example with IBM. Moreover, such company's culture promotes engagement and commitment.

Promote a socially active and responsible community,i.e. corporate social responsibility.

People need to feel they are a part of a community, only then they can understand how the company depends on constructive engagement, including the engagement with the broader communities. 

A strong leadership has roots in a strong community and a community is the core of collaboration.

Today, if companies want to succeed, they need to understand the importance of an engaged community and the role employees, especially managers, play in building it. A healthy company understands the balance between leadership and community in a company.

 

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