Three tips for business leaders to engage in the community
The prosperity and health of the communities we live in are very important. They affect our families, schools, places of worship, businesses, economy and our quality of life. Something as significant as this cannot be left only to the care of others, such as government entities, non-profits or religious institutions.
As business leaders, we need to engage in the care and improvement of our communities, knowing that the benefits of our involvement will result in improving the health and prosperity of our cities and the quality of life of our families, friends and neighbors.
In our day to day work as business leaders, we have priorities to focus on; managing our businesses effectively and responsibly so that our organizations can succeed, prevail in hard times and grow, producing the results expected by all stakeholders. Although the work is ongoing, once we have organized ourselves to lead our business mission, we can go broader in our personal scope and begin to consider the communities we live in. With the right planning and in a responsible manner, we can make time to engage with our community. It can start small and grow progressively until an optimal balance is achieved and multiple roles can be managed effectively.
Here are three tips for business leaders to engage in the community.
The key priority is to make sure you are consistently successful in your role as a leader in your organization; that you are producing the necessary results expected of you and meeting or exceeding all the metrics.
Then, you need to organize yourself to find some time to engage in your community. Spend time considering causes of importance to you or a particular mission you have a passion for and where your involvement could produce a positive impact. The first step after that is to sign up, even if the time commitment is just 30 minutes per week.
For example, sign up to help with an event at work where you help collect and deliver some school backpacks for a community organization whose cause you connect with. Your total effort may be 2-3 hours in a two-month period. Not unreasonable, and if planned right, it should not interfere with your professional responsibilities, so go ahead, sign up!
After a few of these one-off volunteer activities, identify a group, association or organization (inside or outside of the office) that is doing something that matters to you and is having a positive effect on the greater community. Consider a regular commitment as a steady volunteer or in another capacity where the organization can benefit from your thought leadership. Join up and make sure not to over extend yourself.
Check if there are any Networks or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in your organization. If so, learn about their missions and activities and see if you find a connection with the things that are important to you. Many of these ERGs have a community service component that will allow you to connect with what’s happening in the community. For example, joining an Asian Network may help you understand the socioeconomic dynamics within the Asian community in your city.
Also, consider sharing your functional expertise with an organization or association. If you are a professional in finance, there may be a group in your organization that partners with a community effort to increase financial literacy in young students. Leverage what you know and make a positive impact on others. Join up!
One you sign up and then join up, it’s imperative you manage your calendar to block out time to show up to the events you have promised to attend. Attending community events takes time and we are all busy with work, family and personal matters, but if you promised to show up in person, you need to. Showing up allows you to connect with new people and resources, it allows you to maintain an awareness of the health of your community, and it exposes you to issues the folks in your community are facing. Also, people will see that you genuinely care and are sincere about your commitment to the community because you show up.
Find an organization whose mission aligns with your values, sign up to help out on small events, join up once you know you can commit the time and show up once you are committed. I hope these 3 tips help you as you continue on your journey as business leader and remember that engaging in your community can bring you personal joy and can be of bountiful benefit to others.
About the author:
Luis Moreno is VP of Marketing for Synchrony Financial and is the co-founder of The Twin Cities Business Peer Network. He has a passion for Personal and Professional Development and reads, studies, speaks, and writes on topics related to Leadership, Organizational Effectiveness, Emotional Intelligence, and Diversity and Inclusion. Luis holds an MBA from the Carlson School of Management, is a Humphrey Policy Fellow, and is a member of the Minnesota Business (Real) Power 50. He is engaged in efforts to increase U.S. Competitiveness and Shared Prosperity as a member of the Young American Leaders Program at Harvard Business School.