Create Community

Leaders who create a strong sense of community win more often. Phillip Kane's blog

July 16, 2021

This week, we took my son, Will, who will soon start his last year of high school, on a couple of college visits. One of the schools we visited was the University of Dayton, where Will’s sister, Chick, graduated from a year ago. Dayton is a Catholic university run by the Marianist Fathers, the same cats that are in charge at Notre Dame. As, I watched the recruitment video, I was reminded again of the importance of community to this school and to the Marianist order. Now, before you say, “All schools talk about community,” I will tell you, that I suspect all schools talk about community, smaller ones anyway. I know that the school we visited a couple days before did. But, this school – Dayton – lives it. If you don’t like other people, you’re going to be miserable at UD. The school has found the secret to ensuring student interaction, not only at the school, but in and around the town of Dayton as well, where the Marianists are also highly visible and active. And it continues after school with one of the strongest alumni networks in the business. What Dayton has figured out is that stronger communities are winning communities, and that members of strong communities are happier. In fact, year in and year out, Dayton ranks among the top schools in the country for happiest student body. They also have a 93% success rate for placing students after graduation. The correlation between community and winning is undeniable.

And that’s the point for the week.

Leaders who create a strong sense of community win more often. It’s that simple. Any organization has the potential to be a simple collection of disconnected human beings or a community, either or. The leader will determine which. And that choice will largely determine whether that organization is successful – or not.

People want to belong to something bigger than themselves. It’s the way that we were made. We are largely social creatures. We do not do well on our own. Even those of us that sometimes like to be left alone, do not like to be alone (there is a vast difference between the two). We thrive when we are part of a larger community, of a group of people who share our goals, our dreams, our interests, and who cheer our victories and pick us up on the days when life doesn’t go the way we planned.

Community is different than teamwork. Teamwork is tactical. It’s mechanical. It’s more like scripted choreography where everyone knows and does their part, performs their role, and repeats their lines. Teamwork leaves plenty of room for selfishness; just ask LeBron James. But community involves emotion and feeling. Community requires commitment. Community requires investment of not only one’s mind and body but one’s heart and soul. With teamwork, rarely are plays written for what to do when the person next to you loses something they value or suffers some other form of personal setback. In communities, people reflexively offer comfort to those who hurt; they automatically celebrate the achievements of others; they instinctively offer aid to those who are down.

Where there is community, teams prosper because the whole becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. In community, the gifts of all are combined and multiplied. In community, when one part slumps, the other part does more to overcome the shortfall. In communities, individuals are able to achieve that which they never dreamed possible. In communities, the lives of everyone are improved – because everyone gives a damn about everyone else. It’s no more complicated than that.

So, build community.

And win.

For more about the author, visit


Commit to Community

True, caring leaders commit to building community. Phillip Kane's blog.

May 7, 2021

During the winter months, mostly due to COVID-19 and partly because I am not at all a fan of cold weather, I did not leave the house much. As more Spring-like days have arrived, I am venturing out more – usually to nurseries and garden centers which become my homes away from home during warm weather months. When I’ve gotten away, I’ve noticed a certain something about other people. They go well out of their way to avoid any contact at all with other human beings, exaggerating any social-distancing requirements, looking the other way, and behaving generally wary toward one another. At first, I wondered if this was just isolated behavior. But once I started paying attention, I began seeing it everywhere. People don’t acknowledge one another anymore. They’ve become isolated and almost suspicious of those outside of their own pods.  In the span of one year, this pandemic has torn at the very fabric of what it means to have and be in community. Community is central to what makes us human; without it, life accelerates backwards.

And that’s the point for the week.

Businesses, families or society writ large are not moved forward by collections of disconnected individuals. This country was not formed as a result of one disaffected soul engaging in some individual action. No great change or accomplishment is the history of mankind was ever undertaken and achieved by one, solitary human being alone – ever. Progress comes about when one becomes some become many becomes a majority of interconnected souls all believing in and fighting for the same outcome.

That’s missing now. America can’t even agree to look at one another in a plant store, let alone come together to fight a pandemic.

Accomplishing anything requires groups of people who trust one another, who believe in one another, and who will fight for one another. It requires community.

When community exists, it becomes self-evident. There are no factions in community. All hands pull on the rope in one common direction in community. Not a tinkers damn is given about skin color, religion, gender, party or any other difference in community; because these things matter a lot less than the goals of the team. In community, outcomes matter, because there are consequences to losing and for true, winning teams these are unthinkable.

It starts with building trust and rapport. It starts with making eye contact with others. It starts with speaking when you pass someone in the hall, in a plant store or see them on a Zoom call.

Life is a choice. We can allow events like a business downturn, a family tragedy or this pandemic to continue to rob us of community and to enable the formation of ridiculous factions on all sides fed by wild conspiracies, mistrust and manufactured outrage. Or, as leaders, we can prove that we are somehow better than that – by demonstrating to others that there is another way, rooted in trust, in belief in a common outcome and in an unwavering commitment to those in your community.

Commit to the ideals of community. Start saying hi to people again.

And win.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE.