The power of leadership development in community

Leadership can be a lonely place. When you become a leader, the dynamic in your team changes. People who were once your peers become those you are responsible for. Being open and vulnerable with those around you becomes more challenging and you can find yourself leading in a silo, rather than with others.

But there is an antidote to the loneliness of leadership: Community.

Developing your leadership capability in the context of a community can make you a more courageous, effective leader. It’s also great for your well-being and confidence, enabling you to better lead your team and serve your organisation. We’d love to show you why this form of leadership development is so powerful; what it looks like and how you can use it in your context.

Why developing leadership capability in the context of a community is powerful

In 2021, Caroline M did a further coaching qualification as part of a cohort of 12 women. When the 3-month course ended, it wasn’t just the accreditation she came away with. It was also the benefits of learning in a community. For three months, they journeyed alongside each other, learning from each other’s experiences, and sharing their successes and failures. They formed strong relationships and still support each other in their professional development. As Caroline says, there is a desire to keep building something that matters. They had a rich learning experience together, and as a result, they are stronger, more resilient, and more effective as coaches.
 
It is, of course, possible to learn on your own, and sometimes this is the only option at the time. But it’s often more difficult and takes longer because you must find the time and motivation to do the work alone.
 
Learning with other leaders in the context of a community is more enjoyable, dynamic, engaging and, as a result, more impactful. We gain different perspectives as we share our experiences and listen to others. We learn how to practice vulnerability, which builds trust and makes us more resilient. And we grow our courage through collaboration and accountability.
 
Being part of a community of leaders is also important for our wellbeing. We feel less alone in our leadership and connected to others as we journey and learn together. Coming together and collaborating in this way is one of the seven attributes of a Compassionate Workplace Culture, and we believe it’s vital for leaders to thrive and grow, so they can best serve their teams and their organisations.

What does a leadership community look like?

Over the past two years, we’ve had the privilege of supporting a law firm in developing their leadership capability. Part of this has been facilitating a monthly leadership community to connect, build relationships, discuss a topic, and offer each other support in the leadership opportunities and challenges we face.

As well as an injection of inspiration and practical tips and tools from us, leaders across different offices and practice areas share knowledge through experiences and storytelling, helping everyone to be more effective in their sphere of leadership and work.

The sessions result in a consistency of language and thinking in the leadership of the business, and this alignment has a huge impact across the organisation.

A key impact we’ve seen is courage. Leaders feel more confident to have brave conversations with themselves and others that push them outside their comfort zone. They are held accountable by their peers and are more willing to stretch their thinking and try new things.

One member of the community said, ‘I’ve used the skills I’ve learned in these sessions to have two very challenging conversations within and outside my team. The approach I took to these conversations completely changed as a result of what I had learnt in the community. I came away from both conversations feeling they’d been effective and very helpful for both me and the other person.’


How you can develop your leadership capability in community

  • Identify leaders inside and outside your organisation you can connect with. Choose those you feel comfortable with and trust but also people who are different from you and perhaps work in different areas.
  • Create or find environments to stretch your thinking to support your growth. This could be an in-person or online community where you can learn from and connect with other leaders.
  • If you prefer a more structured and focused environment, a facilitated group would be beneficial. We’ve seen significant impact from the leadership communities we facilitate in-house for our clients, particularly through discussion on focused topics, shared learning, and accountability.

What’s next for you in your leadership development?

Your team and your organisation need courageous, effective leaders so everyone can thrive and grow. But it can be hard to develop your leadership alone. This is where the power of a community lies.

Learning in the context of a community helps you develop your skills as a leader, boost your courage and resilience and improve your wellbeing. All these things help you to serve yourself, your team, and your organisation better.

We hope these tips help you find your leadership community. If you’d like to find out how we can support you and your organisation in developing your leadership capability, we’d love to chat to you. We facilitate in-house communities as well as external programmes. Send us an email at hello@compassionate-cultures.co.uk and we’ll be in touch.

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