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Virtuous Culture | Nurturing a Sense of Community

By Steve Plante

· Trust,Meaning

After posting on Virtuous Culture where I introduced its primary drivers of Trust, Community, and Meaning, I googled the definition of Community.

This is what I got. I resonated with definition #2 – a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

I also discovered Fabian Pfortmuller – a Swiss Community builder.

And shares (I highlighted points of interest):

  • “A group of people”: in the end of the day, a community always exists of humans. In the end, we are talking about real humans with real lives, real stories, real hopes, real dreams.
  • “that care about each other”: this is in my opinion the absolute core of a community. The individuals in a group are not just random strangers, they have relationships with each other. They care about each other. They care more about the people in this group than about the average person they meet on the street. This is where the magic of a community happens. When people care about each other, they develop trust. And trust unlocks collaboration, sharing, support, hope, safety and much more. While most organizations in the world optimize their performance towards external goals, communities optimize for trust.
  • “feel they belong”: communities address one of the most fundamental human needs: we want to be loved, we don’t want to be lonely and we want to know that we belong somewhere. Real communities give us this sense of home, this sense of family, this sense of “these are my peers”. This is my tribe, this is where I belong. In this group, I am being accepted for who I really am.
  • “together”: a community gives people a sense of shared identity. We are together. The sum is bigger than the individual parts. This shared identity matters, because it takes the group beyond individual, 1:1 relationships. It turns strangers into trusted peers through a proxy effect: even though I don’t know you, I trust you more than the average person because we are part of the same community, we share the same identity. Many of us express our interests, ambitions and goals through the people we spend time with — communities become part of our identity.

He also suggests that a group of people that care about the same goal does not qualify as a community. That Communities optimize for something else: the relationship and trust among themselves.

Where Relationships organically form (read Fabian’s article The magic of communities: scaling trust through the Community Proxy Effect) bounded and propelled by a common sense of Meaning, that inspires. That directs and fuels collective purpose, innovation, and accomplishment of the Community. That drives and optimizes Value, continuously.

I also came across a story that truly illustrates this point and the power of Meaning infusing Community.

Steve Jobs Asked One Profound Question That Took Apple From Near Bankruptcy To $1 Trillion

The Question Steve asked - Who is Apple?

The response? “What we’re about is not making boxes for people to get their jobs done—although we do that well. But Apple is about something more than that. Apple’s core value is that we believe people with passion can change the world for the better. Those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do.”

This is Ennoblement that Chris McGoff wrote about in his book, The Primes.

This is what Steve Stanton wrote about in his book, Smartwork, “Inspire them with Purpose” as a first step from Taylor to Tomorrow.

This is what Sigal Barsade describes as core tenets of an emotional culture in contrast to a dominantly cognitive (rational) one, where most organizations are dominantly stuck. They need to understand that Humans are emotional beings first, and rational second (thank you Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow).

That a Virtuous Culture is dominantly an emotional one, and rational second, built on the elements of Trust, Community, and Meaning. Where Relationships organically form fueling innovation and execution that optimizes Value to all stakeholders in the Community.

Trust, Community, Meaning. It's a simple formula, but alas a significant departure from dominant organizational behavior based in Industrial Age thinking. The secret to thriving in the New Age is creating a culture where People thrive, individually and collectively.

Those that act will win. And in the immortal words of Douglas MacArthur, those that don't will simply "fade away".

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