Capturing the Heart of Leadership: Spirituality and Community in the New American Workplace

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

Chapter 15
Building Community and Individual Wholeness

Leadership means building a responsible workplace community. The work organization is really four communities. It is a system of structured relationships. It is also a network of human resources integrated into a complex of work tasks. Work organizations are political entities, engaging members in a series of competing power relationships. And, perhaps most importantly, the organization is a culture with its own symbols, mythology, rites, and dominant people. Work cultures act to attract or repel workers to the group's purposes, methods, and goals. Workers choose to associate themselves with these work cultures, to engage actively in actions to further the group purposes, or to withdraw. Whatever action workers take is in part, at least, dependent on the strength of the sense of community instilled in them by the leader-created cultural community.

The task for leadership in the coming century is transforming work organizations into viable communities capable of attracting workers with needed skills and talents. Building attractive workplace communities counters present trends to worker anomie and alienation. A sense of community invigorates workers' lives with a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging to an integrated group doing something worthwhile. Leadership is in large part about creating an arena in which competing interests come together and through negotiation strike a deal, as long as that deal does not intrude on what the organization stands for symbolically.

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