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“C” is for Community

By Nguyen “Tom” Griggs


For this column, I continue using acronyms to spell out the words BLACK BELT, as they relate to teams and leadership. This month, I’ll address “C,” which stands for community.

Originally, I considered using words like “courage” or “compassion.” But after our recent rank promotion ceremony at my school, TNT Jujitsu in Houston, I realized that community is what truly matters. 

Community is essential because it is one of the key components of loyalty and retention. You can have a great facility and teach a dynamite curriculum. But if members don't feel that they are part of a community, it’s easy for them to leave. This is especially true of your instructors and staff.

However, a wonderful community can help ensure that people will stay and even follow your organization and leaders.

Here’s an example that illustrates this point. My dad’s side of the family was mostly black sharecroppers that dealt with the racial evils of the Jim Crow era.

Churches were instrumental in helping people stay connected and hopeful. I remember one of my uncles telling me a story about a particular preacher who did an amazing job of creating a true sense of community for everyone. There was always high attendance at church services and events. The congregants were also very enthusiastic about trying to gain new members.

Eventually, this pastor took a position at another church because he wanted to help grow the greater community of believers. When he left, however, many people from his former church drove a longer distance just to continue being with him.

How did he inspire so much loyalty and trust that people were willing to take the leap and move with him? First and foremost, he was a great leader, and he used that leadership to create a great community. The components of such a community are universal, and apply to a modern school as much as they did in an old country church:


Sense of belonging.

In “Why Perks No Longer Cut it for Workers,” Wall Street Journal senior writer Sue Shellenbarger writes, “What will distinguish the most profitable companies from the rest. . .will be whether leaders foster a workplace culture where employees feel a sense of belonging.”

Ms. Shellenbarger also stresses that employees expect to have great managers and want to see their future within the organization. She notes that companies are doing more to hire and promote from within, so a sense of belonging is quite valuable.



Why do so many of us wear some type of identifying apparel? It’s because we all want to associate with some group, be it our favorite sports team or the fan group of our favorite superhero.

Identity helps other people know who we are and what we represent. But even if your people identify with the group or organization, it isn’t enough for members to truly flourish. It is essential that trust is present, too.



Being part of a community inherently implies that all involved parties can trust the other members to do their part, support each other and fulfill their respective roles. Leaders and followers succinctly understand and accept the fact that trust matters for success and growth. Identity and trust are important in our connection with others.



More than anything else, connection is important to having a community because it helps members feel safe. Connection is necessary for better relationships and growth, while providing members with a feeling of support.



Great organizations and communities thrive on high-quality communication. It is the proverbial glue that makes all of these previous elements work. Sharing information and having clarity in tasks helps every relationship thrive. The values and culture of a community must be continually communicated and reinforced.

While this list isn’t comprehensive, I hope that you can utilize these elements to build a successful community in and around your schools and organizations. If you have other aspects of community, please reach out to me and share.


Nguyen “Tom” Griggs is a professional consultant/speaker in the areas of Teams, Leadership and Conflict and can be reached at [email protected]

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