PGS Assignment — The Importance of Communityship

I recently read a blog post by Francis Gouillart titled, “Leadership sucks.” The post is a response to an article by Henry Mintzberg titled, “The Last Word: Rebuilding Companies as Communities.” The main point behind the article is that there is an over-emphasis on leadership in organizations and an under-emphasis on community building. Mintzberg suggests that organizations should moves towards a balance between leadership, communityship, and citizenship in order to strengthen organizations and encourage a greater sense and manifestation of corporate social responsibility (CSR). As part of the assignment, we have been asked to ponder how our specific article/post can relate to our own experiences with leadership or serve as a model for how we can act (or not act) in the future.

Personally, I find many of the expressed ideas appealing. Despite the fact that I am a business major, I find sometimes find myself at odds with ‘pure’ business motivators. While I understand drive and motivation for profit, I support the idea of the triple bottom line rather than purely profit-seeking business ventures. Much of this focus ties in with the ideas and values of CSR. While I have supported CSR and the triple bottom line, I had never given thought to the internal requirements and prerequisites for these corporate focuses. This post and the associated article provide me with new insights on how to introduce such focuses where they had previously not existed.

While organizations need some leadership, they also need a sense of community and a sense of direction. While not every organization can actively foster such a community, I think that organizations should seek to incorporate a much of this philosophy as possible into their organizational cultures so as to encourage CSR and an emphasis on the triple bottom line.

With regards to my own personal experiences with leadership, I believe that I can use some of these ideas in the organizations I am involved with at Virginia Tech and hopefully in my future work environment. As an individual, I should seek to find a balance between leadership, communityship and citizenship with my colleagues. This could be through encouraging team-building events, focusing more on relationship building within my organization or team, or through exercising good followership in addition to good leadership. Additionally, I could try and create a collaborative atmosphere by encouraging suggestions for improvements in the organization and developing my active listening skills when communicating with my peers. I should also strive to be a servant leader if put in a position of power — placing my peers and my cause ahead of myself.

Thomas Jefferson once commented on power by saying, “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” I think this quote ties in nicely with the Gouillart post and Mintzberg article because it supports the notion of ‘just enough leadership.’ Organizations can gain more power and thusly better serve the good of society if communityship is allowed to grow. We should strive to support this balance between leadership, communityship, and citizenship so that our organizations might have a better chance of embodying the values of CSR and the triple bottom line.

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3 Responses to PGS Assignment — The Importance of Communityship

  1. Pamela Moore says:

    This is a really good point. It seems like everything and everybody is emphasizing leadership now, especially on applications. The thing is that not everybody can be a leader. There have to be followers for that leader, so you bring up a good point about emphasizing community-building. I don’t think I have ever been asked what team-work skills I have, but it seems to me that it is just as important for people to know how to follow as to lead. Knowing how to work as a team, especially how to solve conflicts when everybody is on an even level seems like a set of skills that aught to be valued just as highly as leadership skills because it makes you more flexible in terms of what role you can play in the community and what you can add.

    • Akhilleus says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Pam. I’ve noticed the same thing with regards to applications. “Please list any leadership experiences you have had.” Never anything about where we worked in teams as supporting members. To be fair, it would be difficult to list experiences like that, but the over-emphasis on leadership is getting somewhat old. I would rather see a candidate with a wide breath of knowledge and a diverse set of experiences (especially in working with groups) because that would at least seem to imply a capacity for leadership. And, at the end of the day, not everyone has to be good at leadership. We alienate people who aren’t good at leading others (or those who just don’t want to) by emphasizing those activities so much. I don’t know what the solution is, but it does seem to be a problem. Thanks for commenting on my post, too. I always love to see the interest, even if I am sometimes slow at responding.

      • Kim Carlson says:

        I’ve never been fond of titles and positions as the be all to what makes a good leader. Are you not being a “leader” when you model team- and community-building? Are you not being a “leader” when you participate fully in what is going around you? Are you not being a “leader” when you model behaviors for others, including following someone else because they have the strengths and skills for a particular situation? I place much greater emphasis on experiences in teams and community-building, which is usually better seen through essays and interviews rather than a line on a resume. But then again, why can’t you explain your role in a team or community on your resume?

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