You are probably a person with great skills and will, but why you do not succeed in what you do? What’s the mistake? What’s wrong with you? Maybe what you have is Lack of. It’s a lack of something. In our first articles of this series, we talked about lack of “priorities”, lack of “team”, lack of “listening”, and lack of “courage”. Now we are going to talk about “Lack of ” community.
A lack of community
Any project has its own stakeholders. There is no project without stakeholders. Even the simplest egoistic project like buying a car, need you to interface with some people to make money to buy it and to get the best option in the market. We have already talked about a lack of “listening” and said that in the 21st century being able to listen deeply to the project stakeholders is an essential skill. We also have talked about “a lack of team” and we said that being a part of a team (not too big) can be a great opportunity for increasing your possibilities of succeeding with your project. Now we are going to talk about “a lack of community”. Sometimes you have a project that is local, and you need to push yourself into a community of people: you need much more than spur your team, you need a community involvement; you need a community at work. A real leader is not simply the one that works as a top manager in a big company. A real leader is the one that is able to push his/her community into a project and together get the goal.
“People are unable to fully understand their neighbour. Each of us is partly obscure even to himself. Being able to understand one another one hundred percent is always impossible. This is why people constantly strive to get to know themselves and others. And that’s what makes life so interesting. “
Remove your ATField
The AT Field is the code name of Absolute Terror Field. This expression has been taken from Evangelion, a Japanese anime, and is the soul barrier, a sort of shield, thanks to which we are individuals that are well-distinct from others. The A.T. Field is the result of the porcupine dilemma: it’s the barrier men raise around themselves to avoid being hurt by reality and others. It is also sometimes used in psychology to describe the barrier autistic children put between themselves and the external world. The biggest is your AT field the smaller is your ability to communicate with other people or even to get what Otto Scharmer from the MIT calls deep listening.
To get a community at work, you need to remove part of your AT field so that the other members do the same. This is the only way to reduce the distances between yourself and your community. If in the 20th-century hierarchy was what granted a leader to move a company, now we need to remove the AT field to get a community at work. You and the other members are no longer individual people protected by your AT Field, but you are part of a much bigger organism, you are part of a community.
It is not simple but it starts with having no fear in opening yourself and start dialogue with who is part of the community. Try to talk with them. Listen to them. Help them. Show them that you are full of competence but that at the same time you are a person like them. Remove what distances yourself from them. Remove your psychological shield; remove your At field.
“Community leadership is the courage, creativity and capacity to inspire participation, development and sustainability for strong communities.”
Sir Gustav Nossal
former Australian of the Year
What kind of skills does a community leader have?
Not everyone is cut out to be a leader and not everyone is cut out to be the same sort of leader. It is very difficult to define just what makes a good leader, although there are some common traits that most people agree upon.
- Self-awareness: Knowledge of your own values, passions, skills, strengths and weaknesses. An ability to admit and learn from mistakes and to seek information to fill knowledge gaps.
- Integrity: A strong sense of “what is right” and a demonstration of ethical practices that sets the tone for others. A commitment to teaching by example.
- Courage: The strength to act in accordance with your own values and the greater good despite pressures pushing you in other directions. The ability to put the cause before the desire to be popular.
- Confidence: A belief in your ability to meet most challenges that come your way
- Vision: A strong sense of where you are going as a person and where you think society, your community and your organisation should be going – and how it might get there.
- Enthusiasm: A lively interest in the people, issues and events around you, a feeling of excitement about the possibilities, and the energy to guide them towards fruition.
- Innovation: The ability to “think outside the box,” take risks and develop new and effective solutions to old and emerging problems.
- Wisdom: Intelligence coupled with insight and empathy, as opposed to raw intelligence.
- Adaptability: A willingness to be flexible and to respond quickly and effectively to changing circumstances, along with a commitment to continual learning – formal and informal – and the ability to put that learning into practice.
- Strong interpersonal skills: An ability to interact and work harmoniously with others, while being prepared to take on individual responsibilities.
- Effective communication: A willingness and ability to listen to and understand the thoughts, ideas and concerns of others and to clearly communicate your own. A vision is nothing if it can’t be sold to others.
- Belief in others: The desire to build the capabilities of others, praise them where appropriate, go into bat for them when appropriate, provide them with helpful feedback and motivate them to do their best.
- Peer respect: An ability to inspire respect, allowing a person to capably lead discussions, maintain discipline and encourage the contribution of others.
- Insight: The ability to see the big picture, coupled with a strong sense of what stage you are at along the path, and intuit problems before they arise or before they become insurmountable.
- Sense of humour: The ability to laugh at yourself and relieve tense or stressful situations with humour.
- Competence: Others are unlikely to follow the lead of a person who does not appear to know what s/he is doing.
- Delegation skills: A willingness to trust others and cede some responsibility.
Leaders of the 21st century need completely different skills from those in the 20th century. Openness is one of the most important. You need to work with a community of people virtually or on the real field. Removing your AT field and enhancing the skills we have just described are the keys to be a good community leader. One is all and all is one.