"Community is at the heart of Christian education not simply as a concept to be taught but as a reality to be lived. Through education, (people) must be moved to build community in all areas of life; they can do this best if they have learned the meaning of community by experiencing it" (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1972, #23).
Any organization is only as strong as the relationships between and among the members of that group.
Teams. Work groups. Schools. Communities. Nations. Churches. Families. Friendships. Any group is as strong as the weakest relationship link within it.
United we stand. Divided we fall.
This does not mean that group members must be homogenous. Nor does it imply that those in an organization always agree with one another or that differences of opinions, thoughts, or behaviors are nonexistent.
Rather, it means that the group has established a loop of safety and vulnerability. Members acknowledge a shared future with one another which creates safety. This increases the likelihood that members will be vulnerable with one another. When vulnerability is reciprocal, the level of safety goes up, and the loop continues.
Vulnerable sharing. Enhanced safety. Enhanced safety. Vulnerable sharing.
And, the centripetal force holding this loop together and keeping it in motion is a collective purpose. This sense of purpose might be in the form of a mission statement. It might be a set of root beliefs held by members of the group. Maybe this purpose is a commitment to a particular cause, a clear WHY that articulates the overarching goal of the group.
In his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups (2018), Daniel Coyle covers all three of these components of a strong culture in vivid detail. All three, Coyle argues, contribute to the strength of a group.
Build safety. Share vulnerability. Establish purpose.
According to a study by John Kotter and James Heskett, the difference between a strong and a weak culture is a shocking. In business terms, the difference is apparent in monetary ways:
|From: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/02/10/does-corporate-culture-drive-financial-performance/?sh=54dbc557e9e9 |
- Rutter, Maughan, Morrtimore, Ouston, and Smith (1979) found that school "ethos" contributed to academic achievement
- Bryk, Lee, and Holland (1993) discovered that a sense of community played a vital role in creating a culture of excellence in private schools - teachers were more satisfied in their work, students were less likely to misbehave, less likely to drop out, and had higher achievement in math than their public school counterparts
- Waters, Marzano and McNulty (2004) argued that "student achievement was related to a shared set of core beliefs, a clear sense of purpose, recognition of staff members and student accomplishments, intellectual engagement, and celebrations of success" (Deal & Petersen, 2016, p. 12).