Creating Community in the Workplace
Who is responsible for creating strong communities in the workplace, and how do you accomplish it?
In our September 2023 Servant Leadership Community of Practice, we discussed these critical questions in the context of servant leadership and here’s the answer: love them anyway.
Where is love in the workplace?
We don’t use the word “love” very often at work. Many people say it shouldn’t be there at all.
In the context of servant leadership, love means an attitude of goodwill toward others or concern for the good of others.
Other words we might use include: caring, compassion, empathy, and acceptance.
Kent Keith, servant leader, author, poet, & scholar knows servant leadership is…
love in action!
This summer at Viterbo University’s Conference on Servant Leadership, he read his speech, “Love Them Anyway” and challenges us to think about how to bring LOVE into the workplace.
He suggested eight things you can do to demonstrate that you love and care about your colleagues and stakeholders.
- Get to know the people you lead.
- Understand your colleague’s work.
- Be ethical—treat people right.
- Create strong communities at work.
- Help people grow.
- Help people find meaning at work.
- Help your colleagues beyond the workplace.
- Care about everyone the organization touches.
How much you care should be demonstrated in tangible ways that truly help people!
The loneliness epidemic
It’s not surprising that creating strong communities at work was our topic for discussion, when you put it into the context of the world we live in today.
The opposite of “community” is alone.
Unfortunately, the loneliness epidemic was underway before the pandemic – and it’s arguably worse now.
The Wharton School and California State University found that the lonelier people are at work, the worse they perform & they’re less committed to their organizations.
In their recent Belonging Barometer 2.0 study, EY (a global organization focused on building a better working world) found:
- 80% of employee respondents globally have felt or feel lonely at work.
- 49% feel lonelier today than they did prior to the pandemic.
- 90% of employees suffering from loneliness say they would not tell their supervisor they were struggling.
It’s pretty clear from these statistics…Loneliness is not the absence of people but the absence of connection.
Creating strong communities at work
How do we combat the loneliness in today’s workplace?
- Create a culture of loving and connected communities in organizations.
Who’s responsible for creating community at work?
- Everyone! Regardless of positional leadership.
Servant leadership says that everyone can be a leader, from the new employee to the middle manager to the CEO.
Most individuals would be grateful to work for a leader who is empathetic and accepting in all circumstances. Unfortunately, that’s not always the reality.
It’s important to remember that leaders are people, too…with demands, personal lives, strengths, and weaknesses.
Personal Reflection Questions:
- How can you leverage your workplace to do something nice for someone else?
- What can you do today to create community within your team or organization?
- What gets in the way for you to build community at work?
Strategies you can apply (personally or if you’re in a management position) to create “community building” opportunities in your workplace:
- Celebrate special events in the lives of your colleagues.
- Find people who you can share hobbies, interests, or physical activities with and get involved.
- Recognize when you might be lonely.
- Understand what you need and share what you need.
- Schedule authentic connection time.
- Ensure you are modeling “community building.”
- Are you getting to know the people you work with, what they care about, and supporting them to find a sense of connection and belonging (a.k.a. community) at work?
Love Them Anyway
At the age of 75, Kent has concluded love deserves to be in the workplace. He said:
“Based on fifty-five years of experience, I concluded you gotta love ‘em anyway. I am even more certain today than I was back then.”
In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Robert Greenleaf said:
“Love is an undefinable term, and its manifestations are both subtle and infinite. But it begins, I believe, with one absolute condition: unlimited liability! As soon as one’s liability for another is qualified to any degree, love is diminished by that much.”
Greenleaf didn’t say love means you have to agree with people or approve of their behavior. Love is deeper than agreement or approval.
Kent made two key points:
- Don’t limit your life by limiting your love.
- Don’t limit your leadership by limiting your love.
No matter how others behave, you can still love them. It’s the right thing to do.
Love & care in the workplace turns out to be the place where effective servant leadership begins!
What have you learned from this blog? Contact us and let us know!
Don’t miss your opportunity to join our next conversation! Community Practice sessions are amazing opportunities for any and all leaders to gather and learn from one another in a supportive, comfortable environment, right from your computer. October’s Community of Practice topic is “Your Inward Journey.”
- Speech: “Love Them Anyway” – Kent Keith
- Book: Lead with Luv – Colleen Barrett & Ken Blanchard
- Book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – Gary Chapman & Paul White
This blog post wraps up September 2023’s Community of Practice event. To join us during the live discussion for future months, register at https://www.sophiapartners.org/events/. Community of Practice occurs the fourth Tuesday of each month from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT.