It’s all about the community. Lately I’ve been struggling through some personal and work things, and this weekend I was reminded once again that it’s all about the community surrounding me. When you have people who love you, and encourage you, and support you every step of the way, everything is possible.
This is also the case for our partners. In our training and coaching we spend a lot of time talking about how as leaders, they cannot alienate their community. They have to be deeply engaged with the community every step of the way if their work is truly going to have deep impact.
We talk about how they need to begin with getting buy-in from the community for the work that they’re doing, and that they need to talk to community members to find out if the work that they wish to do is actually what the community needs. If those you’re trying to serve don’t want what you have to offer, what’s the point?
We also teach our partners to assess their program’s effectiveness with their community. That’s pretty obvious, but sometimes we forget that when we are doing certain work then we actually need to see if we’re having true impact.
Many of our partners they come from communities where autonomy in leadership is quite common even though we think of most communities of the world is being very communal in nature. Those who are considered community leaders are often very alienated from those that they are there to serve. Such autonomous leadership leaves people making assumptions about their community without actually getting their input, so we encourage our partners to engage with their community every step of the way instead of just making assumptions about what they think the community wants or needs.
Often our partners are quite isolated as community leaders. They are someone who has just a bit more education than their fellow community members, or have just a bit more experience, or just a bit more privilege. Just the fact alone that they can speak well enough English to participate in our program means that they have had better opportunities than other members in their community. This sometimes leaves them very alienated and alone. They don’t have people who can support them or understands the things that they are going through. Part of our program is to introduce our partners to one another, even though they might live in totally separate countries or continents. The opportunity to get to know one another, support one another, and encourage one another is a way that we’re building a community of nonprofit leaders that can engage with one another in a way that they can’t find in their own homes.
Part of our training is also to have our partners develop an accountability board, or a board of directors. They are not only the decision-makers for the organization but also the community of support for the leaders who day in and day out are executing the work for that program. This is a team who can help them make sure that they don’t fall when temptations arise, people who can help them make wise decisions, encourage them to look outside of themselves and have perspectives from the wider community.
This is just a glimpse into the coaching work that we do with our partners. Just as we encourage our partners to not be by themselves, we encourage you to build your tribe. People who will pick you up when you fall, call you out when you’re wrong, show you a different view of the world, and walk alongside you every step of the way. So find your people. Build your community. Its worth every bit the effort.