It Takes Leaders to Be a Community

by  Jon Mertz  |  Leadership Development

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.

A 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?

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By jon-mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. At Thin Difference, Jon writes and facilitates a conversation on how to empower, challenge, and guide the next generation of leaders.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Amber-Lee Dibble  |  04 Apr 2013  |  Reply

Great post and wonderful points and reminders.

Do you know what was going through my mind while I read this post? (enough so that I read it again)

It was that one line you wrote, “A community builds strong leaders. Leaders build strong communities. One cannot be done without the other.” That’s it. That is the POINT.

We are in this together and without each other… we are nothing. We are not a community, we are not a people… We are in this together and we are not alone. Each of us brings something…special, tangible, VALUABLE… with us when we come together.

Jon Mertz  |  04 Apr 2013  |  Reply

I agree completely, Amber-Lee! It is what leadership is all about as well as community. They both need to be working together in tandem, always getting better in what we do and how we do it. Thanks for jumping in the conversation and offering your insights. Appreciate it, and thanks for all you do! Jon

Lalita Raman  |  04 Apr 2013  |  Reply


Valid points and each one important and to be acted upon by every human. Self awareness is another point that each of us as humans or leaders should develop. To examine and critique oneself, to be aware of our strengths and develop them and work them as well as be open to feedback from others and take action accordingly. Through Self awareness we become more empathetic and human in whatever we do and in an organizational context or daily life this is imperative.

Thank you for an excellent post


Jon Mertz  |  05 Apr 2013  |  Reply

A perfect addition, Lalita. Self-awareness is essential. It keeps us honest, on-track, and centered in what we do. There is also an importance to be community aware, too. Knowing what is going on around us and where our help is needed or a helping hand extended. Great comment and insight. Thank you! Jon

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