Yes, it takes a community to be a leader. There is another side to the equation, too. It takes leaders to be a community, to empower a community.

Community iStock_000012181088MediumA community is a group of people. When leadership is mixed in, the community begins to bloom. It enlivens people to show empathy, act for broader goodness, and build relationships that lift all up. Leadership is essential for communities to be the best they can be.

To be a leader in a community carries a certain responsibility. At a minimum, there are four areas of responsibilities that need to be exemplified by a leader.

Four Leadership Responsibilities

#1: Encourage diversity. Leaders need to embrace differences. Different perspectives, talents, and abilities make a community stronger. As a leader, we need to bring these differences together to refine and reinforce what can be done when all work toward a common purpose.

There is more than one way to solve problems or move initiatives forward. Through listening, finding points of commonality, and inspiring meaningful actions, leaders can enable the uniqueness into a stronger community foundation.

#2: Engage others. There may be pockets of people sitting on the sidelines. We have a choice:  leave them alone or determine how to get them involved. Leaders engage others, no matter where they are or what their mindset may be. Some people may require a hand extended to pull them into action. Others may require a hand up to lift them to a platform of engagement. A leader needs to engage others and get all off the sidelines.

#3: Activate action. Diverse, engaged individuals lead to the next step of acting for a common good. Someone needs to make the call to act. Someone needs to activate a community to act. Leaders need to dig deep within and inspire others so they also act from within. It is the spur to gain attention. It is the seeds planted to harvest abundance of action. It is the talk converted to tangible next steps. This is what leaders in a community do. This is spirited leadership.

#4: Enhance the foundation. Leaders care for the foundation. A foundation needs to be deep and supportive. To build a community foundation, trust needs to be the piers and integrity in all interactions needs to be the beams. Leaders need to put the right foundation in place and then care for it. This foundation supports many, many others, so it needs to be strong, welcoming, and empowering.

An Important Formula

There are two sides of an equation for strong leaders and strong communities. A community builds strong leaders. Leaders build strong communities. One cannot be done without the other.

While our call may be simple, our efforts require much. Neither can be taken for granted, and both need to be undertaken by leaders and community members alike. We need to:

  • Encourage diversity
  • Engage others
  • Activate action
  • Enhance the foundation

We need to connect with our communities to advance society forward purposefully.

What would you add to the responsibilities required to empower and lead a community?

Jon Mertz
Jon is a vice president of marketing in the healthcare software industry and named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business by Trust Across America in 2014. His background consists of an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and working for companies like Deloitte, IBM, and BMC Software. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders. Connect with Jon on Twitter @ThinDifference.
Jon Mertz

@ThinDifference

With a thin difference between two generations, a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story. Close the gap & enable Millennial leaders to excel.
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Jon Mertz