When is a team a community?

In recent weeks I have had some interesting discussions about ‘community’, many of these have in relation to working with others on potential projects.
This has prompted me to ask myself a number of questions about the differences between working as a team and that team being part of larger, organisational community.
Thinking aloud here, I have been thinking about the characteristics of ‘community’ and without reference to a dictionary definition, just based on my own experience, I would say these are:
  • having shared values – that does not mean we all have to agree or have the same viewpoint, but that at fundamental levels there is commonality in terms of behaviour, honesty and openness and respect for others
  • having shared purpose – again, the ways of achieving that purpose bay be different, by the goal or aim is held in common.
  • embracing diversity – in all the widest aspects of this
  • supporting each other – this may mean supporting each other’s learning and growth as well as provide practical support when needed
So how different would you say these characteristics are from those of an effective working team?
When thinking about the culture of an organisation, we all know this is set at the top, like it or not, our leaders are observed, and behaviours noted. As current politics is demonstrating, it is no good adopting a ‘do as I say not as I do’ approach to leadership! So the teams that function in any organisation, office or department will reflect on the values and traits of the whole ‘body’.
I found it refreshing that this was the start point of discussions with people who are rethinking their organisation and I am sure that members of the operational teams will be more effective in delivering high quality results because the senior team are taking the time to think through what is means to be part of the ‘community’ within this particular organisation.
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