Authentic Leadership – Part 4 Building Community, Ethos and Culture

A sense of community is important now because people need to know there are still individuals who care in spite of challenges faced and problems yet to be solved. They need to know that servant leadership is taking place everywhere, in all types of communities and by all types of people. John Maxwell writes in his book The 360 Degree Leader that “only 360-degree leaders influence people at every level of the organization, and by helping others, they help themselves.”

WE ARE A COMMUNITY OF POSSIBILITIES, NOT A COMMUNITY OF PROBLEMS. COMMUNITY EXISTS FOR THE SAKE OF BELONGING AND TAKES ITS IDENTITY FROM THE GIFTS, GENEROSITY, AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF ITS CITIZENS. IT IS NOT DEFINED BY ITS FEARS, ITS ISOLATION, OR ITS PENCHANT FOR RETRIBUTION. WE CURRENTLY HAVE ALL THE CAPACITY, EXPERTISE, PROGRAMS, LEADERS, REGULATIONS, AND WEALTH REQUIRED TO END UNNECESSARY SUFFERING AND CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE FUTURE.”

PETER BLOCK, COMMUNITY: THE STRUCTURE OF BELONGING

There are two important words that need to be considered when talking about community development. CULTURE and ETHOS. In a real sense, the CULTURE created, is the container or elements and facets of community ETHOS.

Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence emotions, behaviors, and even morals.

As those who serve in their leadership roles, it’s always about the entire community, never about “you” as the leader. If you are in the position of leader, you are always called to raise up others to become all they have been created to be. There needs to be a framework, or scaffolding to support such an environment. Without this element, the “vision” you attempt to impart will not have the substance it needs to take people forward in it. It will only be “half” of what it should be. By this I mean only the “mission”, without the “why”.

That structure is normally called the culture. But without a vibrant and activated Ethos, the culture will not thrive into a genuine, emotionally and spiritually healthy community organism. Leaders first learn to live what they believe, then are called to impart the vision not only of the mission at hand, but the ethos that is the infrastructure of the culture, the mission, and most importantly the people in the mission, (or business, etc.)

This will not happen in a vacuum. There needs to be intentionality in the leaders to cultivate this environment. At EIS, we term this, “Emotionally Healthy Leadership”. Indicating a focus on personal development, not mere “professional” development. One of the ways we accomplish this is by supporting the people in the community with mentoring, coaching and counseling, in collaboration with the community leaders. We come up alongside not only the leaders, but everyone.

Then as people’s lives are impacted, discovering more of their genuine selves, understanding their purpose at ground level, heal their hearts and relationships, they are healthy to move in to a healthy ETHOS with a high level of “buy in” and ownership. As people’s lives become transformed, and as they discover purpose, etc., they now are agents of transformation themselves through their shared testimony and collaboration with others in the community. In a real sense, everyone becomes a “leader.”

Clearly, without these elements as the foundation and infrastructure of your attempt to build a business or other enterprise, ministry, etc., your vision and mission will suffer and may well not “make it”. It may go on for a while, and may even exhibit some “success.” But true prosperity, and long term, sustainable growth, scaling ability and genuine substantive value, only comes from within the organizations heart… a larger purpose.

And that means the hearts of the people in it. If the heart is sick and broken, it will not function properly. If the heart is healed, it will function the way it was intended, and the “brokenness” that was once a dis-qualifier, will now become the very qualification that was always needed as a part of a healing community, creating a living and active ethos as the life blood of culture.

BH

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