Monday, June 30, 2008

Relationships--our Community's Greatest Asset

Another quality that gives women unique potential to be leaders in our communities today is our relationships.  Yes, the very same relationships that we are always being made fun of for.  You know--the ones with your girlfriends and your mom and your neighbors.  The people you spend hours talking on the phone with and hanging out with and sharing your life with (meanwhile, the men roll their eyes and wonder aloud what we could possibly have so much to talk about).  

The truth is that marketers and executives would pay premium dollars for our relational networks.  This is because they know that relationships are powerful, especially in this day and age when so much else is faceless and impersonal.

I once took a tour of one of the firehouses in my community.  To show us how they operate, the firemen split us into ranks and titles, and gave us walkie-talkies.  Then they demonstrated how they communicate when an emergency strikes.  The person at the top contacts the next tier of people, and so on down the list.  They were very efficient at it, and obviously needed to be.  

Women, I think, operate in the much the same way (minus the rank and strict formality).  Because we live our lives in close connection to other women, word can travel fast.  Having a network in place is often the most important thing when responding to crisis, or lending a hand to someone in need.  It is also very helpful when operating a small business, and circulating goods and services around in a community.  Furthermore, as every good leader knows, having a network in place is necessary for mobilizing people into action.  

The bottom line is that our friends and family--the connections that we keep--are probably our community's greatest resource.  Our network puts the "net" in "safety net."  And we naturally create these networks wherever we go, probably more effectively than government or business ever could.  

Of course, sometimes these qualities--being relational, being resourceful, being communal--are overlooked by our culture, and our leadership potential is dismissed.  Stay tuned for tomorrow when we'll talk more about that. 

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