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to our strategy—fully committed to be the best leaders possible—it will be our secret sauce, our edge in the market.” He is not alone in this thinking. More and more senior leaders I work with are starting to understand the power of building a strong community of leaders. The good news is that we can create a strong community of leaders in our organizations. Why? We’re hardwired for it. “I’ve asked one question in my leadership seminars and keynote presentations: What kind of culture would you need for you to be at your best and able to make your fullest contribution as a leader? No one has ever said, “I thrive in a climate of low trust”. “I am at my best in a climate of apathy” “I excel in a climate of constant conflict?” “I love working at cross purposes with my colleagues.” Instead what I hear over and over again, regardless of company, industry, country or level of leadership, is the same thing: “I’m at my best in a climate of high trust.” “I perform at my best when I have a sense of mutual respect and support.” “I excel when there are strong relationships and everyone is pulling in the same direction” These answers all describe the characteristics of a strong community of leaders. We’re hardwired for it. Yet we struggle to create a real sense of community, instead remaining trapped in really bad and ineffective cultures. It’s time we bring about what we already intuitively know we need. It’s time we build a strong community of leaders in our organizations. Every strong community of leaders that I’ve experienced or witnessed shares two critical characteristics: they have a high degree of clarity and a high degree of commitment. First, all leaders clearly understand that the community of leaders is built upon a shared aspiration for great leadership. Everyone understands that leadership will be the ultimate differentiator. The community is not created merely to establish a better way for leaders to work together (although that does happen). Instead, it’s all about making your company more successful and driving sustainable business success. It’s about showing up each day with a “one-company mind-set” Second, there is a high degree of clarity about the kind of leadership needed for success. As a leader you have a clear understanding of the leadership expectations. As a leader you know what you must do to make the organization successful and the way in which you need to lead. You don’t settle for lame or bad leadership. In fact, a strong community of leaders exits those individuals who consistently fail to live up to their leadership expectations and obligations. These organizations know that a few bad leaders can undermine everything. So they don’t tolerate it – and neither should you. You will also find that there is also a high degree of commitment demonstrated by leaders. First it’s a commitment to the idea of a community of leaders. Second, it’s a commitment to do the work to build it. You demonstrate your commitment by setting the pace and being the best possible leader you can be. Strive to be the leader everyone else wants to emulate! You and your fellow leaders also demonstrate your commitment by doing the hard work of leadership. No one is a bystander or spectator. Everyone participates fully. This means you have the courage to call out bad leadership behavior. You challenge the community if leaders are not living up to the aspiration of great leadership. At first this will be difficult, but once you create your community of leaders, everyone will come to accept it and expect it. They will look to you for feedback, and you will look to them for feedback. You will have a deep sense of personal commitment to your fellow leaders to support their growth and development. In fact, if you aren’t living up to the level of leadership that has been set, you can count on someone in the community of leaders reaching out to you and saying, “Hey, you aren’t doing your job. We need you to be better. So step up!” No one is afraid to challenge another person. You will also know that everyone will have your back. You know they will be there for you to support you even when you are vulnerable. For this community to work, you will need to show your commitment over the long term. A strong community of leaders isn’t a destination to arrive at. Rather, it requires constant work. You need to continually create ways to connect with your fellow leaders, to build and strengthen relationships, to drive even more clarity and commitment. You will know when you’ve got it right because it will be a visceral feeling. You will feel the high level of clarity and commitment. You will be blown away by the level of trust and mutual support. You will feel part of something great, something special, and something rare. That’s what it feels when you share a deep connection with your colleagues. That’s what is possible when you are part of a strong community of leaders. But I don’t think it should take a hurricane to build that powerful sense of connection and trust. Your life doesn’t have to be on the line. Rather, it simply requires a common aspiration, clarity, and commitment on the part of all leaders in your organization. But imagine the difference to your employees, your customers, and your shareholders. Imagine the level of collaboration, innovation, and productivity. It will be staggering. LE It’s Time to Build a Community of Leaders Vince Molinaro is a New York Times Best Selling Author and Managing Director of the Leadership Practice within Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions. As a Senior Executive of this award winning company, Vince has helped create one of the leading brands in the Human Capital industry. He is the author of the New York Times Best Selling book, The Leadership Contract (Wiley, 2013). He’s also co-author of two other successful books: Leadership Solutions (Jossey-Bass, 2007) and The Leadership Gap (Wiley, 2005). Visit www.thecommunityofleaders.com Twitter @VinceMolinaro leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014 30


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