Youth For Our Planet/Path of the Changemaker/COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY AND LEADERSHIP


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In this module, we will focus on approaches to effective community leadership such as the vantage points and building trust. We will also identify the best practices to sustain communities through the approach developed by Daniel Shapiro, the founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program.


The content of this module will guide you through evaluating yourself as a leader and your role in the community through an in-depth discussion on the fundamentals of community leadership.


Community and Leadership

Each community requires a different leadership style. In order to be an effective community leader, one must first discern the fundamentals of community and leadership. According to Richard Millington, there are five different types of communities:

  • Community of interest - a community of people with similar interests. For example, a kayak club or a debate club or a dog-lovers club
  • Community of action - a community of people who aspire to bring change. For example, Extinction Rebellion or a Rotaract club
  • Community of place - a community of people united by geographical location. For example, meetup group of python programmers or a community-organized cleanup brigade
  • Community of practice - a community of people who are in the same profession or practice. For example, association of chartered accountants
  • Communities of circumstances - a community of people. For example, a group of earthquake survivors

By these five communities, there are different types of leaders that we need to develop for each of them. You can be a leader in your own capabilities or capacities. The best notion of leadership is servant leadership, which is working collaboratively with a team to accomplish a vision. A servant leader is someone:

  • Who can be a great follower while sharing responsibilities and power with his/her team members
  • Who listens very well
  • Who has empathy
  • Who pays attention to contextual intelligence

Becoming an effective community leader

First tip: Look at leadership from the vantage points

Second tip: Understanding the prerequisite of engagement— Trust. Look at aspects that destroy trust such as lack of integrity, not having shared roles and responsibilities, absence of protection, lack of decision making, belonging and motivation.

Best practices to sustain communities

You can approach this by looking at your community in three perspectives:

  • Value proposition - Look at the value offerings that you are bringing to your community, make the members know why this community exists or what the benefits of joining the community are.
  • Emotions - Emotions promote creative problem solving, the broader our repertoire of possible actions and thoughts, and they produce a broad flexible connective organizational ability to integrate diverse materials. Pay attention to these five concerns:
  • Appreciation - appreciate the works and purpose of the people in the community
  • Building affiliation - bridge the gap between groups to productively work together
  • Respecting autonomy - give the members freedom to influence or make decisions
  • Acknowledging status - what is your status in the community?
  • Individual roles - give people roles to fulfill so they can develop a sense of belongingness within the community
  • Identity piece - Give meaning to what holds you and your community together. The identity can be the higher purpose that your community calls for as part of the action required and the shared purpose within everyone. You can tackle the identity piece through symbolic actions.


  • Leadership is a complex skill to learn and the requirement varies depending on situations. However, a successful leadership is not a one-person job. Most of the times, it involves many stakeholders to agree on a certain decision and so it is crucial to understand the dependencies, relationships and impact of plans and actions.
  • The vantage points model lets you see the whole community in different perspectives, gaining a deeper understanding of the flow of communication and action within the members.
  • Sustaining communities rely on a shared vision, trust, acknowledgement, and a sense of belonging.


  • Beginner: Think about your leadership qualities and skills. What areas need strengthening, learning, or to be amplified? What personal leadership challenge(s) can you take on to make yourself a more well-rounded and versatile leader? Write down at least one leadership area you feel you excel in, one leadership area you would like to learn more about, and one leadership area you would like to improve upon.
  • Intermediate: Try to organise small-size project with friends or some members in your community. Assign and delegate roles each member according to what needs to be done and see how well they interact and navigate the responsibilities of each other’s roles. Once you have completed a project, let them write down the new things they learned about each other and also assess your leadership skills.
  • Advanced: In the box below, create a symbolic action for your community or organization. This can be a song, a badge of honor, a logo or a flag. This should make the members feel proud to be in the community or organization.



After watching the video of the module, we encourage you to think, reflect and learn about the following questions:

  • Based on the examples given in the video, would you consider yourself as a servant leader?
  • How do you think one can become an effective leader? Which approach suits your leadership style best?
  • What holds you and your community together? Do you have a shared purpose? Do you have the same values and beliefs?



Wadia Ait Hamza is Head of the Global Shapers Community at the World Economic Forum. He holds a Master Degree in Euro-Mediterranean Affairs, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies, with a minor in Women & Development from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.