You’re not alone

We had just started the first module of our spring 2018 cohort for the Foundation for Effective Leadership. And before the hour was up, I saw first hand the power of community.

This group of 20 uniquely different people — from various companies, backgrounds, interests, skills, and talents — had come together for a common reason: to grow, develop, and learn. But the most interesting thing about community programs is how quickly people can realize that, despite all of their differences, they are not alone.

That’s a difficult concept for anyone to process, especially when we have so much going on both personally and professionally.

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But that is the exact reason we focus on this emerging leader demographic, these young professionals. There is so much change unfolding during this phase of life. Some are managing people for the first time. Some are getting married or starting families. Some are working hard to figure out their work identities. And there is no manual on how to do any of these things.

Which begs the question: How do we cope with all these situations and still understand ourselves?

That’s why this demographic is so powerful and important to serve. It’s because there is no need to go about it alone, when there are so many others experiencing the same thing. We are much stronger together, and successful leaders will agree: Teams matter.

One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, wrote a whole book about tribes. We’re meant to be together, connected in communities. But we lose sight of that as we work our way through the professional world. We shift into thinking that we’re on our own path, and that nobody understands what we, specifically, are going through. That our experiences are different.

That’s not to say that one size fits all or that there is a blanket solution for everybody. But the moment we can bring ourselves into a circle and realize we have so much in common, the power of the experience and the program shines through. I saw it firsthand once again during Module 1. Different leaders turned to each other and said, “I went through something very similar six months ago.”

We don’t have to be exactly like everybody else. In fact, it’s biologically impossible to be so. But it’s important to keep our minds open to the idea that we have more in common with others than we think.

Which is why we need a community and to share our experiences. So that everyone grows.