Not only has the pandemic isolated us physically, but recent studies have shed light on how people are feeling increasingly isolated on a personal level. Technology, remote working, and unhealthy industry expectations are just some of the causes of this community breakdown. Whether we want to admit it or not, what we long for is personal connections, and considering we spend most of our life at work, the workplace is no exception.
Unfortunately, for many, work can feel like a place where you leave your individuality at the door and pull on your business face. Pushing down the essence of who you are and stifling your authentic self. When leaders of an organisation prioritise building a sense of community, employees show up with vigour and passion for what they do – and your people will work as a collective as they move toward goals with a mutual mindset of what is expected and what is essential.
I want to share with you an inspiring story I read recently about a CEO whose focus is on embracing and endorsing the creation of tight-knit communities inside of their organisation.
Sara Blakely, SPANX
One of my favourite examples of outstanding leadership that fosters community I learned about in our current read at the MADI Book Club, ‘Mastering Community’ by Christine Porath. The author explained how Sara Blakely, the CEO of Spanx, holds what she has coined as “oops” meetings. The purpose of an “oops” meeting is for Sara to get up in front of her team, talk openly about her failures, and encourage her team to do the same.
In fact, Sara goes as far as to say she encourages failure and explains that her father would ask herself and her siblings what they had failed at that week. If they couldn’t answer, he would be disappointed, as he believed they hadn’t attempted to do something that scared or challenged them. Now you may think this is an intense parenting tactic, but it has served Sara well. As she has learned to embrace her shortcomings, her team feel safe and secure to take accountability, learn and grow from their own mistakes. In addition, she has created an environment where her employees feel they can take risks, be innovative, and have autonomy over their actions – because failure won’t end in a preliminary meeting or a strike on their performance review.
"Failure is not the outcome; failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to fail.” – Sara Blakely
Sara's ability to share her own mistakes says more than simply getting up and encouraging her employees to share theirs. Leaders are remembered for what they do more than what they say. Employees can see the authenticity of a leader who personifies the community values of their organisation – it’s the oldest saying in the book; if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk. But walking on your own isn’t very fun, so bring your team along with you because the key is community!
A question for leaders: do you think your organisation would embrace and encourage the introduction of an "oops" meeting?
A question for employees: at present would you feel confident to share a personal failure if your employer were to hold an "oops" meeting?
If you answered no, perhaps focusing on building your sense of community should be something to prioritise moving forward. It will be a worthwhile investment for everyone involved!
Join OUR Community! We are holding our Career Clarity Retreat in the beautiful Torquay on Saturday, June 4, 2022! It’s a full-day retreat all about YOU, to focus on reflecting, refreshing, and reclaiming your career journey. It’s a jam-packed day full of professional development that will leave you feeling energised and ready to take your career back into your own hands. You'll also get the opportunity to build connections and networks with likeminded people. If this sounds like a bit of you, you can read all about it here. And if you’d like to chat, with no obligation to sign up, feel free to book in clarity call!