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The crucial role of community building through your career



Building confidence in your role is an ongoing journey characterised by learning, growth, and the steadfast support of a robust community. Whether you discover this community within your organisation or by connecting with peers in similar roles outside of work, the significance of cultivating it through community engagement cannot be emphasised enough.

The Power of Community:

Despite the solitary moments that come with your role, the truth is that you are never truly alone in your career. Joining or building a supportive community around you, can provide a wealth of insights, shared experiences, and encouragement. By connecting with peers facing similar challenges, you gain access to a diverse range of perspectives and solutions. Your community acts as a sounding board for ideas, a source of inspiration, and a network of individuals who understand the intricacies of your role. You’ll discover that many times when you face challenges, other people have faced similar situations and will be more than willing to share their experience with you.

I encourage you to join a network of people who get the nitty-gritty details of your role. This sense of belonging fosters a positive environment where you can learn and ultimately boost your self-confidence as you grow more senior.

Engaging with a community will also enable you to stay informed about industry trends, emerging technologies, and innovative approaches. This is equally important as you might not always have the ability to work on the most challenging or creative projects. This exposure broadens your skill set and equips you with the knowledge needed to reach for those sought-after projects in the future.

Sharing Your Experience:

As you gain confidence and experience in your role, it becomes essential to pay it forward by sharing your own experiences with the community. Becoming an active participant in knowledge exchanges not only solidifies your own understanding but also contributes to the growth of the community as a whole. By sharing your successes, challenges, failures and lessons learned, you not only help others facing similar situations but also reinforce your own expertise. The act of teaching and mentoring within a community enhances your leadership skills, ultimately solidifying your position as a trusted and knowledgeable person.

Building a Supportive In-House Community:

While external networks are valuable, it's equally if not even more important to foster a sense of community within your organisation. If this is not something already in place, I encourage you to be the change you want to see by leading by example. Try to foster open communication, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among team members to create a supportive environment that will help to grow as a team.

If, like me, you’re in a Delivery Lead role, you could try the following ideas.

Provide Time for Learning: When possible, allow team members dedicated time for professional development, learning new skills, or exploring new technologies that can benefit themselves or the entire team.

Celebrate Learning Opportunities: Recognise and celebrate learning opportunities, whether they come from successful projects or lessons learned from challenges.

Hold Workshops and Training Sessions: Organise workshops or training sessions within the team to share specific skills, best practices, or new tools. Then encourage team members to lead these sessions based on their own areas of expertise.

By establishing a culture that values learning from one another, you create a space where there is psychological safety and everyone feels empowered to contribute and grow. This not only strengthens your team but also reinforces your own self-confidence as you witness the positive impact of collaborative efforts.

On a personal note:

It took me a while to step out of my comfort zone and actively contribute to the wider community. I initially started with small contributions within my delivery community, and gradually expanded my horizons through other communities within my network. Overcoming imposter syndrome has been a significant challenge, but I've come to realise that, despite my own self-doubts, I possess the ability to offer valuable insights to my communities. My true expertise lies in my hands-on experience of more than 10 years in project management which enables me to guide others when they are faced with challenges. Being a strong ally in your community is also being there to celebrate other people's success so let’s take this as a homework to praise someone today for their hard work.

In Conclusion:

For product development specialists, like Potato, community building is not just a buzzword – it's a fundamental pillar of success. From fostering collaboration with coaching and mentorship to enabling continuous learning and strengthening client relationships, the impact of a robust community extends across every facet of the studio's life. As digital professionals, let's recognize the vital role that community building plays and invest in creating environments where individuals can thrive, innovate, and collectively achieve greatness at speed. After all, the strength of our community is the cornerstone of our success.

I will quote Ted Hewett, who I've had the chance to work with previously, and ask you to “Be excellent to each other”, as we are all part of a larger network of professionals who understand and appreciate the challenges in our roles. One thing to be mindful of is that it's crucial to strike a balance between seeking help and challenging oneself. Balancing the act of asking for help with personal initiative is crucial for honing problem-solving skills and becoming a versatile and competent professional.

I'm here to lead by example and support others along their journey. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Each of us has unique strengths that can positively impact those around us.