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Creating a Sense of Community


Submitted By vanessalyle19
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Unit 5: Creating a Sense of Community

Vanessa Lyle
Leadership Theory and Practice II

September 1, 2013

Patricia Wolf, PHD

Introduction The purpose of this paper is to discuss the five practices that create more community within an organization. Though many different cultures create community in different ways, one thing remains true; creating community brings a team together like never before. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner discuss the five different ways to create community within an organization. Those five ways to create community within an organization are connect celebration, community, and commitment, celebrate accomplishments in public, make celebrations part of organizational life, provide social support and have fun together. “In acknowledging the community (“common unity”) that we share with one another, leaders create a sense of team spirit (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 310).”
Five Practices to Create Community The first way to create community is to connect celebration, community, and commitment. Celebrations are the perfect opportunity to address the tasks at hand and to go over what kind of commitment is needed in order to complete these tasks. Behaviors and purpose should also be addressed. “These occasions are magnificent opportunities for leaders to expressly link principles to practices in a way that’s memorable, motivating, and uplifting (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 312).” Secondly, a leader should take the time to celebrate employee accomplishments in public. Sharing these stories of accomplishment in public makes role models of these employees. It will motivate the rest of the team to want to better themselves so that they can be recognized as well. “Public ceremonies serve as a collective reminder of why people are there, of the values and visions that they share (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 314).” Third, making celebrating a part of the company culture is an excellent way to boost employee morale and team spirit. There is not an employee on the planet that would not love a little time at work to celebrate their hard work and dedication. Even if the celebration is as simple as someone’s birthday or an anniversary of an employee starting their job with the company, it is a great excuse to gather the team and acknowledge a milestone. Fourth, a leader should provide social support to each employee. If an employee feels that they are not alone and that their work is of value, they’re more likely to feel committed to the company, leader, and task. “When people feel a strong sense of affiliation and attachment to their colleagues they’re much more likely to have a higher sense of personal well being (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 318).” Lastly, a team should celebrate to have fun together. Employees who enjoy their work are more productive and energized to complete the tasks that are given. Though morale has been mentioned several times throughout this paper, it is true that a fun environment and a strong feeling of belonging do increase the overall team and employee morale.
Different Cultures Creating Community The Chinese culture creates a sense of community by being really close to their family. They do not care about working long hours and having fancy clothes and cars, they would rather spend time with their family and create memories with them. By their families being well taken care of, their work life is happier. If for some reason someone of the Chinese culture cannot take care of their family well, their work morale becomes low. The two go hand in hand. In the Central American community, religion plays an important role on how people interact with each other. “The Catholic Church is also a key institution that holds members of the Central American communities together. The church provides services and social support (Lee, 2010, p. 5).” With the church playing such a pivotal role in the community, the workers come together at different times to pray and worship together. These times are designated within the work schedules in Central America. Lastly, in the Jamaican culture, “they move in with the relatives or friends who also help them find their first job. According to this tradition, a group of people pools their money and then loans it to someone who needs it (Lee, 2010, p. 10).” The sense of community that Jamaicans have is that they want to help their friends, family, and neighbors. If they have something that someone needs, they are more than willing to share. The same can be said about how they approach their work ethic. They are willing to go above and beyond to complete the task. If completing the task means working long hours, then they do it with a smile on their face.
Challenges and Solutions One challenge that a leader faces when dealing with different cultures is communication. Communication can be both verbal and non-verbal. What means one thing in one culture might be offensive in another. “As workforces become increasingly multicultural and businesses continue to expand overseas, the homogenous workforce has become a thing of the past.
Management today has to ensure that they are understanding and being understood across cultural boundaries (Humes, 2007, p. 1).” For example, wearing shoes in many American homes are acceptable, however, in many Asian homes, wearing shoes in their home is a sign of disrespect. Another cultural challenge is differing concepts of time. The challenges consist of if cancelling a meeting because of family issues will offend the business associate and if being late by even just a minute will be acceptable. For example, many of us always plan on being on time but unforeseen situations such as an accident on the highway will make us late to a meeting. In different cultures, this could be very rude and disrespectful.
Lastly, the overall language barrier can be a big issue. “English is considered the international language of the global business world. However, in many cultures, speaking the local language is important if you want to conduct business in untapped markets (Maier, 2008).” Using a translator can be a valuable accessory; however, the information will not be received first hand. This could cause major points to be missed. Trying to actually speak the language is recommended but make sure that the language is known fluently. Sometimes words do not translate well and someone could end up offended. For example, “the brand name of an American soap is translated as "crazy person" in Korean, while the word software translates to "underwear" in Indonesian (Maier, 2008).” In order to prevent offending someone of a different culture, the organization as a whole should take some classes that provide simple cultural etiquette. Also, “given these cultural differences where some cultures are more time-conscious than others, it is always best to be punctual at first and simultaneously adopt a relaxed attitude towards time management (Humes, 2007, p. 5).” Learning how to communicate effectively face-to-face, via email, or via phone is an important step in helping to prevent miscommunication due to cultural differences.
The best way to not offend someone due to being late is to always be on time. Always plan ahead for barriers such as traffic accidents or highway lane closures. Being on time shows that there is a sense of respect for their time and that the meeting is of importance.
Lastly, someone who wants to work in an environment that is multicultural should learn many different languages. The language barrier is the biggest hurdle to overcome because what means one thing in America means something different in other cultures. If the language is one that is unknown, then talk slower than usual and do not use jargon. For those with English as their second language, they may not be familiar with many of our sayings such as “quiet as a mouse”. In such a case, simply say “it is quiet”.
This week’s lesson discussed the five best practices in order to create community in an organization. It is very important to reiterate the mission, acknowledge accomplishments publicly, and make work a fun place to be. This will improve team morale and productivity. In a future leadership role, I will make sure to celebrate team accomplishments, individual employee accomplishments, and even birthdays and anniversaries in order to create a sense of community. The celebrations will be as elaborate as a dinner or as simple as cupcakes around our desks. I have also learned the importance of publicly announcing accomplishments. Though it is a great idea to go to that individual and let them know that you are proud of their success, it is even better to share the story. In order to inspire my team, I want others to know how someone else overcame trials to achieve a goal. The story alone is enough to motivate people without me having to put on elaborate parties every hour. The most important thing that I learned is to give social support to my team and have fun. Yes, work is a serious thing and should be taken seriously. However, no one said that laughing, celebrating, and being happy to go to work was a sin. I want my employees to feel like work is a place where they can be happy to be. Incorporating more celebrations into our work schedule will be at the top of my list.

Humes, J. (2007). Intercultural Management: Leadership Among Different Countries. Kwintessential Intercultural Management, 1-5.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lee, K. (2010). Understanding Culture, Social Organization, and Leadership to Enhance Engagement. The Community Tool Box, 1-20.
Maier, C. (2008). Cultural Challenges in a Global Business Environment. Retrieved September 1, 2013, from EHow Money:
Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership Theory and Practice (6ed). Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage.

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