Deepening CommunityI’ve known Paul Born for many years and have deep respect for his work founding the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement in 2001. Their community-based work has reduced poverty for 250,000 people in Canada and many other countries.

When Paul gave me a copy of his latest book I expected it would center on his Tamarack work as a community activist and focus on community as a description of place like the neighborhood, city, or town where we live. The book turned out to be much broader and spoke to me very directly. Paul’s writing style is conversational with lots of stories and personal examples. I was especially fascinated to learn more about his upbringing in a Mennonite farming community since I share similar roots.

Paul defines community as identity, place, spiritual, intentional, and natural living system. While he focuses on personal and societal aspects of community, I was struck by the parallels with highly effective teams and organizational cultures. Take, for example, his finding of three types of community; shallow, fear-based, and deep. Far too many teams and organizations are shallow workplaces where many people find little connection or meaning beyond earning a living or building a resume. Fear as a motivational force or bonding “us” against “them” is too commonly used by political and organizational leaders. This is destructive and poisonous.

Deep communities define peak performance cultures. This is where people are made stronger for their organizations and organizations are made stronger for their people. Paul found that happens through “four acts that individually and especially together deepen community: sharing our story, enjoying one another, taking care of one another, and working together for a better world.” That’s a great description of the great leadership that creates highly effective organizational cultures.

Deepening Community is an inspiring and insightful approach to rebalancing today’s focus on individual rights and opportunities with broader community connections and responsibilities. And you’ll get to know much better a strong and visionary leader who walks his talk.