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How Virtual Communities of Practice Engage Leaders to Work Together

A year ago, could you have imagined that you’d be doing so much business virtually? Even very camera shy women are learning how to use online platforms for communicating with clients, business associates, friends and family. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. After all, if you’ve been reluctant to use video in your business, the pandemic is forcing you out of your comfort zone.

During your virtual meetings do you notice others getting distracted, or worse, disappearing into the background? How can you keep Zoom meetings on point instead of drifting aimlessly? How do you keep your team motivated virtually? That’s where bringing virtual Communities of Practice can enhance engagement and thereby your possibilities for success! 

What are Virtual Communities of Practice?

Here at Newave Leaders, we are on a mission to build a better life, business and world through community. Did you realize there’s actually a term that embodies the ability to lead a committed group toward a common goal, by fully utilizing the inherent talents, skills and strengths of each individual member of the team? It’s known as building a Community of Practice (CoP).

Louise in particular has experience with various Communities of Practice, and she’s seen how they can tap into the tremendous energy, the synergy, where the sum of the group accomplishes more together than one person alone could ever do. The good news is CoPs aren’t limited to in-person interactions. The principles of Communities of Practice are proving to be very useful in the virtual space to help all attendees learn the most, be stretched the most and become the best versions of themselves.  

7 Reasons Why Virtual Communities of Practice Work So Well.

When you’re in a Community of Practice…

  • You’re with a group of like-minded individuals who are committed to learning to grow as leaders. This fosters trust in each other and space to hold each other accountable. 
  • Your group works together to co-construct a beneficial set of norms for the Community of Practice. By keeping a continual dialogue going about these norms, you ensure each voice is heard in the shared behaviors for the group.
  • You’re reminded that you need each other in order to grow, develop, achieve, and solve the complex problems you’re facing.
  • It erases fear and the need to “pretend.” Vulnerability is welcomed and honored. Honest and open communication within your community greatly increases your ability to accomplish what you set out to accomplish. 
  • It sparks greater creativity. People are not constrained by defined roles or titles; they can freely explore ideas to generate the best possible solutions and innovations. Conversations tend to be nonlinear, as you give each other permission to explore out-of-the-box solutions.
  • You’re helped to grow as an embodied leader. You can safely observe, without judgment, your context to make sense of your story — understanding where you come from, what you believe, and how your emotions are showing up in your body
  • The environment enables you to “be” together, not just “do” together. In an increasingly disconnected world, you’ll explore thoroughly what it means to be connected and interdependent.

To help your virtual Communities of Practice succeed, here are 3 principles to keep in mind… 

1. Engage the emotions. Curb wandering attention and distractions by helping everyone “feel” the problem or opportunity. Personalize it with statistics, anecdotes, or analogies that illustrate the situation.

2. Engender responsibility. Counter passively hiding in the background with breakout groups and assignments with deadlines. Then regroup for further discussion based on the progress made.

3. Involve everyone. Make sure everyone knows the agenda and how to prepare to make meaningful contributions in each discussion. Lead by giving everyone ample opportunities to speak — perhaps switching out speakers every 5 minutes or so.

We find that we’re more genuine, more passionate, and more understanding of the viewpoints of others’ when we’re part of a Community of Practice. If you would like to get a feel of how this works and learn skills you can bring to your virtual communities, we invite you to join our community of like-minded women who are determined to be the best and lead the best, through these chaotic times. The Great Circle Community is held regularly and we’re enjoying a deep discussion of what’s holding us back and discovering powerful solutions to move us forward. 

Please join us for our next call. Together we can do more.

5 Ways to Build Your Own Community of Empowering Women

As women, we have an advantage over most men. Do you know what it is? Are you taking full advantage of it?

A woman’s advantage

Many women grow up with a built-in community. Ages of wisdom have been shared from grandmother to mother to daughter, from aunt to niece, from sister to sister. We know that this community of sisters and elders anchors us to truths that others don’t yet know. We can turn to one another, wherever we find our sister or soul sister, mother or elder.

This message of community is powerfully expressed in Margaret Wheatley’s poem, “Turning to One Another*.” She tells us “There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” She reminds us that we MUST turn to one another. That is where we find the strength to discover “what’s possible” and know that others “share our dreams”.

How can you help build community and connection to empower women? Even if you haven’t grown up with an empowering support system, you can build your own, by being open to making new connections, reaching out, conversing, and sharing your hopes, dreams, and ambitions. For example, we, Maria Connolly and Louise Santiago, met and connected at a coach development program. The more we talked the more we discovered our values and vision were aligned. Since then we have been working to build this business to empower women to be fierce leaders.

No one should have to go it alone. Here are five ways to help create more community and connection in your world. Notice that within each area, you give to yourself before you can give to others. 

Shine a spotlight on other women. Don’t be afraid to verbalize or write your gratitude for the things the women in your life do and the way they are in the world. Think about how positive acknowledgment has impacted you. Make time every day for this and never be “too busy”.

Recapture your essential nature. Generations of people have learned to suppress and disown their true selves. They give away their power by hiding behind a persona and showing the world a censored version of self. It’s time to bring back your authentic self! When you reconnect with your purpose and values, you’ll embrace what and who you are now AND actively unlocking the full potential of what and who you can dynamically become through mindful, personal growth. 

Model healthful living. A healthy body is the powerhouse from which we attain meaningful aspirations and dreams. Without clean water, nutritious food, and energizing exercise, the human body can’t function properly. When you practice and model wellness, you empower women to be the best version of themselves. Also, it’s essential to nurture a powerful spirit that lets dreams soar and won’t give up. A practice of mindfulness and self-awareness is the basis for creating harmony in this mind/body/spirit connection. 

Promote lifelong learning. It gives you a competitive edge in today’s job market. Women who know they can learn new skills when needed won’t feel stuck in a profession. It makes you a highly sought after as an expert in any field.  It slows cognitive decline and makes you a happier and more interesting person. You’ll always have something to talk about, so conversations can be more deeply meaningful.

Invest in yourself. Before you can give to others, it’s vital to have a continual commitment to developing oneself in order to be a stronger part of the community. This can be challenging because as women, we’re often juggling multiple responsibilities and end up lacking the time, energy, or focus to do deep personal work. Make a commitment to yourself to get away and seriously explore and clarify what you want. Visit lovely surroundings where you can de-stress and think deeply without distraction.

We, as women, have the privilege, and responsibility, to use our community to empower each new generation to come. At Newave Leaders, we offer an Annual Retreat where you have the opportunity for turning to one another. We’ve developed a community of empowering women who share a passion for developing their internal leader, incubating their dreams, and turning their vision into a new reality. 

We’re getting ready to announce our 2020 retreat in Costa Rica. We invite you to sign-up at the bottom of the Bring Forth the Leader Within page to stay up-to-date on the details.

 *For your convenience, here’s a link to Margaret J. Wheatley’s “Turning to One Another.”

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The Great Circle Community — A safe space where your inner voice is welcomed and heard. Tired of all the rhetoric and noise? Become part of the solution and join Louise and Maria for meaningful conversations. Membership is free. Learn more today

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