The Servant Leader and Building Community

“All that is needed to rebuild 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.”  Robert Greenleaf

“Rebuilding community” implies that community once existed and needs to be restored. Although a sense of community exists in many workplaces, recent survey data related to Americans and job satisfaction indicates that which once was, may no longer be. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Individuals now actively, and in many cases, purposefully seek community outside the workplace.

Regardless of how we differentiate community, its definition is worthy of pursuit: “A feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

Notice community is a “result” of sharing. That is not to say that sharing cannot increase a sense of community, but the actual definition seems to indicate the reverse. Being in the trenches together leads to a “this is our organization” mindset versus a “this is his, her, or their organization, and I always feel like I am on the outside looking in” mindset.

Servant leaders inspire others to work together toward a common goal.
In other words, “Do as I say not as I do” is not in a servant leader’s vocabulary. He or she is in it with employees. Servant leaders may be on the sidelines when the play is run, but they are purposefully engaging with employees as a means of inspiration. If this is not happening, then it is important to note that no inspiration leads to desperation, and no organization can survive that long term.

Servant leaders build community within organizations.
The servant leader understands that community is only possible through strong relationships. I am not just referring to peer-to-peer relationships. Managers who wish to be servant leaders must be committed to performance review, coaching, giving and receiving feedback, etc. They are committed to integritynot just talking about it. They refuse to fall into traps such as scapegoating, finger pointing, idealizing, and infatuation with gimmickry. Instead, they long for developing substance in others and themselves. Actually, they refuse to settle for less.

Servant leaders build community among organizations.
Servant leaders value collaboration. They refuse to be so profit hungry that they forget to be prophets of industry, innovation, and inspiration. Last week, I read that Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, announced the company would “clear the path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles” by not enforcing its patents. I don’t know if that one move qualifies Musk as a “servant leader” or not, but I think it certainly goes a long way.

What about you? Can you think of one way you can build community within your team or other circles of influence this week? We would love to hear your success stories and/or insights related to this topic.

Serve on!

Greg Anderson
Written by:
Greg Anderson
Online Curriculum Developer, Strategic Government Resources
Follow Greg on Twitter!@SGRGreg

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