Magic bullets. Special Sauce. Secret weapon. Toolbox. How many books come across our desks here that are filled with buzzwords? In some cases they turn the phrase into something meaningful and have a powerful message. In other cases? Not so much. But then there’s this refreshingly no-nonsense book by Howard Partridge, The Power of Community: How Phenomenal Leaders Inspire their Teams, Wow their Customers, and Make Bigger Profits (McGraw Hill, 2018). It’s about a workplace issue that’s near and dear to this reviewer’s heart: people.
Partridge is a passionate business coach with a big following — he cites motivational speaker Zig Ziglar as a mentor and is a Ziglar-certified coach. But he’s also a prolific author with a clear philosophy about the true foundation of excellence. His 7 books, including this one, all focus on being phenomenal — in leadership, work, business, and life. Taking a sharply focused look at the companies rising to the top in their markets, he found one common thread: the leaders work hard to make sure the organization isn’t just a workplace. It’s a community.
No matter a company’s product, service, size or location, turning the workforce into members of a thriving community can make all the difference between moderate success and true excellence. It’s similar to the concept of alignment that so many thought leaders are trumpeting, but it’s better: Partridge doesn’t try to dress it up. He’s a bit scrappy that way: self-made with a great rags-to-riches life story, he goes for the essence, not the idea. The essence is that we all want to belong to something. We all want to feel like we’re a part of something that satisfies more than our bank balance. We need meaning, we need connection, and we need recognition. Leaders who forge a sense of community in their companies are tapping into that. And they’re seeing tremendous results.
As Partridge notes, community isn’t an instant fix: it starts with leadership’s taking a long look in the mirror — and fixing undesirable behaviors at the source. From there it’s a commitment to truly changing the culture of the workplace so it provides support, encouragement, and accountability. The approach needs to be well understood by managers all the way down the line, and Partridge provides clear explanations on how to model it and convey it. He also cites instances of companies he’s worked with where once those values were transmitted throughout, employees started to treat each other according to those values as well. When everyone is supporting one another — not just their daily work but their larger goals and aspirations; and encouraging each other to grow and stretch in order to achieve and excel; and finally able to hold themselves accountable so they own their own performance; that’s a powerful and cohesive kind of workplace. Given the many studies on the importance of managers’ respecting employees, having room to grow, and valuing transparency, this seems like a timely set of strategies.
It’s easy to think of reasons why organizations should treat their people better: all we have to do is look at the ones that are obviously not communities — often marked by a exits of key personnel and class action lawsuits. But with The Power of Community, Partridge clarifies exactly why human capital is indeed a company’s best resource. He shows what happens when businesses make their employees feel valued. You can’t buy excellence, but if you create a workplace community where your people come first, it will come.
For more about Howard Partridge, visit howardpartridge.com