In the future of work, people are your greatest asset. Success will be driven by how well you can build connection and foster collaboration within your workplace. An expert in community leadership, Shane Feldman shows organizations how to turn community into their competitive advantage.
Shane has researched community leadership and human behaviour across 30 countries and five continents, uncovering universal strategies for building engaged communities. He joined us for our most recent Virtual Speaker Series’ event to equip our clients with their future-proof passport.
By bringing us on a global exploration of community building, Shane revealed four ways leaders can optimize team culture and leadership for increased talent and client retention in this new world of work.
1. Keep Your Circles Open: The +1 Experience
Life is meant to be a +1 experience, Shane said. When you share an experience with someone else, he continued, it amplifies how connected you are to that moment — it enhances our focus, creativity, and our ability to recall this memory. The +1 experience is the foundation of engagement, retention, empowerment, and joy, both at home and work.
Shane experienced this first-hand while traveling in Vietnam. He landed in Ho Chi Minh City on New Year’s Eve. Thousands of people were on the streets to celebrate, but while making his way through the crowds, Shane felt very alone in this new city. It didn’t take long for a group to invite him to join them, turning this night into one of Shane’s most memorable. Why? Because they made it a +1 experience.
Shane later learned that Vietnam values collectivism as a country. They see individuals as secondary to groups. Wherever he went in Vietnam, he noticed people congregated in half circles. Through their physicality, Shane said, they were showing that their circle is never complete; there is always room for people to join. Vietnam exemplifies a culture of connection. Keep those circles open, Shane said, and transform events, offices, and more, into +1 experiences.
2. Talent Development: Invest in Your People
In Tokyo, Japan, Shane had the opportunity to cook alongside a Michelin-starred chef, who often trains other chefs in the art of Japanese cooking. While training a top executive chef from Paris, he started with a simple dashi soup, which has three ingredients — kombu kelp, fish flakes, and water. It takes 8-9 minutes to boil in a pot and it’s done, Shane said.
The French chef was blown away that such a simple recipe could yield such bold flavours. The chef revealed to Shane that it’s not the immediate act of cooking that produces delicious food, instead it’s the time put in to preparing the ingredients.
What would it look within our teams, Shane asked, if we invested more time in the personal and professional development of each team member? It would mean that in that moment of service, those hours spent training and skill building can be recalled in an instant to allow them to perform at their best. Invest in your people for the long-term, Shane said.
3. Community is Built by Design, Not Default
The mayor of Albania’s capital city, Tirana, completely transformed the look and feel of the city by intentionally building a sense of belonging. While designing the main square, he included different elements from across Albania — like certain types of rock, trees, bushes, etc. — so that all who visit can find a piece of home in downtown Tirana.
This is an example of intentional community building, Shane said, and an important lesson especially for introverted leaders. It’s easy to assume that community-building is easier for extroverts, but community should be built by design, not default.
At its core, community building is about shared meaningful experiences, Shane said. These are built through micro-moments (like finding a tree from your hometown in a new city) and the tiny, seemingly insignificant micro-interactions that we have throughout the day.
We don’t need constant social events and activities to build community, Shane said. We build community through our everyday interactions. Be intentional with how you interact with people to grow deeper and stronger relationships.
4. 10 seconds of “Sawubona”
For his final lesson on community building, Shane brought us to South Africa, where he learned one of his most significant lessons on leadership and connection while living amongst a Zulu tribe.
When he arrived at their village, Shane was given a traditional welcome. Tribe members gazed directly into his eyes for about 10 seconds in complete silence until an elder said “sawubona”, meaning “I see you.” In that moment, Shane understood how important it is to truly see one another in building meaningful relationships.
Shane strives to bring this same feeling into his own organizations. This doesn’t mean he stares at people for 10 seconds every day, but he does try to add “10 seconds of sawubona” into his interactions to show his team that they are seen. In our increasingly virtual world, Shane shared how we can do this even through an email by following a three-step process:
- Hello: Personalize every email.
- Hook: Don’t jump right to the ask or your need, make the first line personal.
- Help: Close the email by offering your support.
In the last few years, Shane has built and grown three new companies across the US, Canada, and the Philippines. This strategy has transformed how Shawn approaches company culture and community, and has resulted in stabilizing their retention, both within their team and with clients.
“Community isn’t something that you find, community is something that you create, that we all get to create,” Shane said. “So, my challenge and invitation, and my wish for you, is that you take hold of that opportunity and start to see every interaction as a chance to deepen relationships and build greater community within your organization.”
Recognized by the White House, the Prime Minister of Canada, and the United Nations, Shane Feldman helps leading organizations, including Fortune 500s, optimize team culture and leadership for increased talent and client retention in this new world of work.
Contact us to learn more about Shane and how he can help your organization turn collaboration into your competitive advantage in this new world of work.