Building a Community

We all belong to a number of different social groups. Think about it. You may be the member of a church, a group around hobbies that you enjoy, or a professional organization. Other groups include your family, the neighborhood in which you live, the organization for which you work, the team or department in which you work. These are just some of the examples social groups to which we belong. Each of these groups forms a community.

The strength of a community lies in the hands of its leaders. The stronger its leadership, the stronger the ties the community members make. I was reminded of this recently after receiving the unfortunate news about the passing of a former colleague. We lived and worked on different coasts, and we both left the organization over 15 years ago, Yet, there were still ties and other colleagues that bound us. I subsequently received a note from the leader of that community. He talked about the closeness of that community and friendships that were formed among its members. We were a unique group. That caused me to stop and think about the strength of the community to which we belonged.

  • How do leaders, especially leaders in organizations, build strong communities?
  • They make sure that members honor each other.
  • The value the differences and contributions that each member brings.
  • They create opportunities for each member to learn and grow.
  • They ensure that members share their talents and knowledge with each other.
  • They ensure that confidences are honored and respected.
  • They ensure that all members have a voice and a chance to participate.
  • They encourage collaboration among members.
  • They encourage healthy debate and allow differing opinions to be heard.
  • They ensure that everyone is accountable for their actions and contributions.
  • They insist on mutual respect among all members.
  • They provide opportunity for camaraderie, friendship and fun.

This describes the community of HR professionals with whom I was privileged to work. Our leadership set the tone, but we all played a part in building a strong community. We worked hard. We learned from each other and we grew together. We made great contributions to the company – contributions of which we are still proud. We have all moved on as has the company. Many of us have stayed in touch, hear from each other, or run into each other from time-to-time. When we get together, whether in person or virtually, whether in good times or sad times, we can still celebrate the community we built.

Cornelia Gamlem

This post is dedicated to the memory of Rena McAfee and to all my other colleagues from CSC.

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