On Unity and Community Building for Leaders
As someone who has spent years in the community building space, I've been thinking about how online community best practices can start to tackle some of the world's major problems. This is a big topic and by no means can be covered in a single blog post, but I'd like to address the idea of unity as a stepping stone and what it means not only for business, but for humankind.
- Finding Common Ground - It's easier for us to try to distinguish ourselves as being special or unique but the challenge lies in identifying what makes us connected to each another.When watching Barack Obama's speech from Cairo, Egypt, I was completely taken by his ability to address various audiences. He managed use personal experiences - traces of Muslim influence in his upbringing - to historical events in order to "relate" to the Arab world. In this speech, he managed to connect to Israelis, Palestinians, and other Muslims in the region. While watching this speech, it occurred to me that the first step towards community building is knowing what makes us similar. For centuries, the world has been divided as a result of religious communities fighting for their differences. Imagine a world where instead of fighting, we took pride in shared histories, people and beliefs?
- Listening to Others - Whether you are a retired professional, a working mom, a recent graduate, or a five-year-old, there is insight you can offer. During my career, I've seen environments where decision making is an exclusive process -- board meetings are run by a handful of people who determine the course of an entire company of individuals. Marketing teams orchestrate campaigns that are targeted towards a group of outsiders. Parents make decisions about what is best for their kids without asking them what they want. I believe that in order to unify groups of individuals, buy in must be present from the beginning. We most recently saw this when Tropicana redesigned their product packaging and logo where they didn't involve the customer early on in the process and had tremendous negative feedback. People of all ages can and should be heard, but to what extent are we as people and businesses capable of listening?
- Caring for One Another - I've been a big proponent of "womanomics" for some time. It basically is the belief that women have the innate ability to relate and communicate which leads to better outcomes. Currently, there is still a disparity in the working world between men and women. As a whole, women still make less than men and while women constitute half of the workforce, only 12 Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs or presidents. If we can learn to think more like women and to value a sense of caring and compassion for one another, the world will be a better place. If we think of unity as the building blocks for community success, then compassion and relationships are the cement that holds it together.
Whether we are thinking about our next business decision or our next strategy in community building, let us step back and look at the big picture. Real challenges stand in the way of unity: religious discord, ageism, and gender discrimination are a few. . We can't fix everything right away, but we can learn to find common ground, listen to others, and care for one another while trying.