Strategic Community Engagement: A Unseen Power For Business Leaders
Outside of work, we have formal and informal opportunities to engage in not-for-profits, government entities and committees, neighborhood associations, and other groups in our areas of interest that operate in our local communities (or remotely). Volunteering, board memberships, elected positions, and informal advisories or promotions are all examples of Community Sphere investments. As a result of demographic and economic trends, as well as the many outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are weaker than ever. And there’s an epidemic of loneliness to prove it.
For busy professionals and parents, who seem to get even more busy, adding a third realm of involvement can feel daunting. But properly structured, community activities can be a healthy and productive complement to our work. This is particularly true for professionals seeking more purpose or transition, whose current situation doesn’t provide the impact, learning, or fulfillment we seek. These “extracurricular activities” are also a great chance to expand our networks, build new skills, learn new industries, and have more of a positive influence that creates a meaningful life. So let’s consider some risks and opportunities of investing in our Community Sphere of Impact, to achieve more of the impact we seek.
Overcoming Challenges in Community Involvement
1. Get Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Susan McPherson, a social capital billionaire, stands as a beacon of successful community engagement. By diversifying her involvement, including mentoring young women from diverse backgrounds, she not only made meaningful contributions but also expanded her professional community. McPherson reflects, “Building bridges across differences enabled me to pay forward my privilege and connections, helping young women find jobs, internships, and career advice.”
2. Surpass Limits
Reflecting on personal comfort zones, business leaders share stories of breaking professional limits in community engagement. Oren Heiman’s journey provides insight, as he notes, “More than half and probably closer to 80 percent of our firm’s business ultimately came from my community relationships.” Heiman, like many other professionals, discovered new skills, built…