the effective leader

March 16, 2018

Every human being has a longing for belonging. We all want to feel loved, accepted, and validated. We want to feel that our lives matter. Deep down, we want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. We want to make a positive difference. Today, we are more connected digitally than ever before, and yet we often feel more isolated and disconnected personally than ever.

This sense of isolation not only affects our personal lives, but also dramatically affects our work life as well. The ongoing Gallup Engagement Poll revealed that 70% of American workers are disengaged from their work. Perhaps even more disturbing, 18% of those workers are actively disengaged, meaning they are actually working against the success of the company. No surprise that this lack of positive purpose bleeds over from employees to customers and has a serious negative impact on our organizations.

There is, however, one simple concept by which leaders can re-engage their team members and inspire them to go the extra mile. That concept is called community. Community has many meanings for many people. We often use it to refer to a geographical area, a nationality, or a group of people. But the kind of community we are talking about goes much deeper—it is about the sense of belonging that all humans hunger for—the need to be connected to one another, the deep desire to be a part of something meaningful, something that makes a difference. This longing for belonging can have either positive or negative consequences. It is the reason people join clubs and do volunteer work, and it is also the reason people join gangs.

Some people have been fortunate enough to experience a sense of community in their families at one time, but that sense of belonging has unfortunately largely disappeared in many families as we have become a more digital world.

A genuine community is a group of people who belong to one another. True community is a group of people who are committed to one another in every way possible. They share the same vision and values in life. They care for one another deeply. Someone you are in community with would get up in the middle of the night for you for any reason.

Social media gives us a sense of connectedness, but a ‘virtual community’ is an oxymoron. True community requires the human touch. In the digital age, many young people have never felt true community, or the love and encouragement that true community can bring. But they long for it. Everyone does. Business owners and managers who understand and implement the principles of building community within their organizations can help their team members experience a feeling of being truly connected and valued, which in turn creates loyal customers and bigger profits.

how we lost our sense of community

Before the turn of the twentieth century, people had to rely on one another to get along in life. Yet, today, many of us do not even know our next-door neighbor. We use apps for directions, delivery, and even acceptance.

Today, the digital revolution is paving the way for complete isolation and reliance
on machines rather than human interaction. The problem is that you cannot have
a real relationship with a machine. Artificial intelligence is creating lifelike robots that we can control through an app. What happened to humans that we could not satisfy one another any longer? What happened to the sense of community we once felt? This change was not brought on by any one specific event but, rather, by a series of events that occurred over many years.

Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

Obviously, our world has been changing rapidly for centuries, but Gutenberg’s introduction of mechanical movable type2 printing to Europe started the Printing Revolution3 and is widely regarded as the most important invention of the
second millennium, the seminal event which ushered in the modern period of
human history.

There was another major shift at the beginning of the twentieth century when, for the first time in human history, more of the world’s population lived in cities than in rural communities. As the locomotive and the automobile became a part of normal life, the Industrial Revolution steamed forward.

The factory, rather than the farm, became the ‘normal’ workplace, which brought tough management systems. As strangers worked next to one another, they became just another cog in the wheel of industry. ‘Command and control’ management was the order of the day during the Industrial Revolution. Then came the airplane, the telephone, and the television. Now we find ourselves in another revolution—a digital one. This revolution has brought new attitudes to the workplace that require a different approach.

care and coach vs command and control

Many business owners still use the ‘command and control’ style of management, which entails the taskmaster simply barking out orders while everyone cowers down to her command. Unfortunately, this style of management does not work. People are not engaged—there is no loyalty, no care, and no joy in the workplace.

Of course, the work has to be done. And it does get done in the ‘command and control’ environment, but it is not done well and when the taskmaster is not watching, the employees will slack off. On the other hand, leaders who have paid attention to the trends today will understand that effective leadership is about ‘care and coach’ rather than ‘command and control’. When leaders show they care about their team members, they will work harder for that leader.

When you truly care about others, you will coach them to success.

Effective leadership is about ‘care and coach’ rather than ‘command and control’.

A leader is a coach.

A good coach knows what her players’ gifts, strengths, and weaknesses are. She is in tune with the personal habits that affect players’ performance.

A good coach can see a player’s potential, even when the player cannot.

A good coach holds the players accountable. Not doing so affects the players’ future potential.

A good coach makes sure each player has received appropriate training.

A good coach makes sure their player is in the right position.

As a leader, you not only have authority, but you have a responsibility to develop your team. How you use your authority will make the difference in your effectiveness as a leader. Leaders who use her authority to boost their own ego or advance their personal agenda will reap a disengaged—and perhaps actively disengaged—team, and going to work every day will not be enjoyable or meaningful for anyone. When you ‘care and coach’, rather than ‘command and control’, you will be on your way to creating a sense of community in your organization.

01 Fry, L. W. (2003). Toward a theory of spiritual leadership. The Leadership Quarterly