The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

RLF Reflection: The Role of Community Building in Leadership

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On our October 22nd session, Tola Akinwumi gave her presentation on why community building should be at the forefront of our leadership philosophies. Citing a TedTalk, she defined community as a group of people with shared interests and goals building “common unity” between minds, spirit, citizenship, and people. Tola outlined some of the necessary ingredients to build community: engagement and continuous effort; collective guidelines to inform norms and community culture; and collective goals based on an understanding of community and individual strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, the benefits of community building are that the more community building is done, the greater the community will be! Based on Tola’s presentation, I began to see it as a positive feedback loop; the more people were engaged in community building, the stronger the community would become, and the more they would community build together.

Tola showed her own strength in community building by engaging Fellows and encouraging audience participation. Through our contributions, we could begin to form a collective idea of community; one that we might want to build! Her call to self-reflection has inspired me to think about the communities I have been a part of that successfully or unsuccessfully included me, and how. To build community among the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, I would like to take some of the positive aspects from these past communities (like encouraging and accepting authenticity, inclusion and genuine interest in learning new things/people, and courage to do the right thing) and put them in our collective guidelines. But, like Tola’s presentation emphasized, it is not enough to just state that this is a goal. I will have to put in the effort to do so, and engage as many of the Fellows to join these efforts as I can!

Steps towards community building necessarily involve consultation. Consultation is the best way to include others’ perspectives and then come to a consensus based on those perspectives. I think the best first step to community building among the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows would simply be to talk about it. No pressure, no judgement, your voice matters.

-Written by Leeza Poselski, Class of 2021 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow 

As Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, seniors gain a better understanding of the qualities and responsibilities expected of leaders. As Fellows take part in the workshops, discussions, and team-building exercises, they examine their skills, qualities, and attributes as leaders and analyze how these influence teamwork and achieving goals. 

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