The importance of community and how to grow yours
When you're a leader it can sometimes feel like you're an island – managing a business, navigating challenges, and making the big calls when it matters.
Recent studies show that half of CEO’s feel lonely and there’s a link between loneliness and burnout in leadership.
But just because you're at the top doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Community is vital for our wellbeing and feeling connected inside and outside work has never been more important.
A sense of purpose
One of the reasons community is key for wellbeing is its impact on our sense of purpose. When you’re part of a bigger picture and what you’re doing connects to others you’re contributing value to the whole. This strength in numbers gives us a sense of belonging and meaning.
The Hive mind
If you’ve not read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, it’s a great read for many reasons, but his chapter on ‘The Hive Switch’ gives a really interesting take on the importance of being part of a collective.
“We have the ability (under special conditions) to transcend self-interest and lose ourselves (temporarily and ecstatically) in something larger than ourselves. That ability is what I’m calling The Hive Switch.”
He goes on to outline how when we become part of a group – it could be a sports team, religious community, or a political party, we lose our sense of self and become part of a whole. And that through shared practices and rituals we are bonded by ‘passion and ecstasy’ that bonds us, instils a desire to belong and helps us to find meaning in life. In essence it helps us to become less selfish and more loving.
Growing your community
So we know that community is important, but it’s not always easy to find. How can we grow the community around us?
Work on your social capital
It sounds obvious, but you might already have access to the community that you need. When we're busy it's easy to lose contact and let friendships and relationships lapse. But by investing time and energy into the bonds we make they become stronger. If you've lost touch with an individual, group or network don't be afraid to pick up the phone or drop them a note. They could be just the support you need.
Foster the community in your business
As a leader you have the power to make your internal community thrive. It can be as simple as increasing catch ups and one to ones, tackling challenges together, or working on making more meaningful connections with your team through social and collaborative events. As well as contributing to wellbeing this sense of community could make your business stronger too. Jonathan Haidt references the ‘hive-like’ mode of operation of successful organisations like Google and Zappos, you can check out his theories on ‘wolf packs’ and ‘beehives’ in this talk he gave.
Try Contact Sport
If you want to bolster your external community but the thought of traditional ‘networking’ fills you with dread, there are other options out there. Contact Sport do networking differently, basing their events around sports and activities. So instead of awkward chat with a warm glass of wine you can meet people while climbing, roller skating, paddle boarding, having a round of golf or playing rounders. It's a great way to break the ice and meet new people.
Connect with your sector
If anyone is going to understand your challenges and appreciate your successes, it’s those who are going through the same thing. It’s easy to discount competitors as rivals but connecting with fellow leaders can be invaluable. There are plenty of opportunities in the city to start making connections: Start Up Grind, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Professional Liverpool, Baltic Triangle, GOB and of course, Gather has been developed to help you make connections with like-minded leaders through our online community, events and programmes.
Strength in numbers
Our wellbeing and happiness are deeply affected by the connections we make. The pandemic has made it harder to be social and more challenging to connect with people but by making new contacts, developing relationships and finding new communities we can find strength in numbers.
If you want to connect with like-minded leaders find out more about the Gather community