Are you building a village?

by Rici van Schalkwyk | September 22, 2021

It takes a village to raise a child.

The meaning of this proverb is that it takes the involvement of an entire community of different people interacting with children, for a child to grow and develop in safety. The entire village will look out for the children, creating a safe environment.

Building and growing a business requires a village.

But what are the requirements for a village to raise a child? From the above the following elements can be identified:
  • Involvement from an entire community
  • Different people interacting
  • A safe environment

Is your business a village?

I believe that as leaders, we need to build a village. Roughly a third of our lives are spent at work. For most of us, our interactions with work colleagues outnumber, in hours, the time spent with family and friends. The parameters of community and support network1 have shifted.

Employees that feel valued and connected, have been shown to perform above expectations. But how do you build a village in your business:

  • Create a safe working environment. For employees to feel emotionally safe, there need to be (amongst other things) clear boundaries and expectations. Documenting and communicating policies, procedures and development plans with clear expectations are some of the cornerstones to establish an emotionally safe environment.
  • Optimise the different strengths of employees. Identify and develop the different strengths of each employee and each team. Employees and teams that can use their strengths daily, are more energised and perform better.2 Development plans must be focused on strengths.
  • Develop a culture of involvement and connection. This involves having structures and processes that support the sharing of knowledge, giving input and allow for decision-making that includes all employees across service lines and departments.

These elements all build trust over time. Trust that in difficult times, the business and my colleagues will provide emotional and practical support. Because I matter to them. I am part of the village.

Is your business part of a village?

Small and medium sized businesses mistakenly trade as if everyone is a competitor. A dog-eat-dog world. Businesses cannot be everything to everyone. Or can they?

Strategic partnerships allow for synergies otherwise not possible. Having trusted partners that can provide complementary services or products to your business, expands your market, and adds value to your customers.

The elements of making your business part of a village are:

  • Create a safe environment/arrangement. For businesses to form a village the boundaries and expectations must be clear. Agree on and communicate the limits and expectations of the partnership.
  • Optimise the different specialities to maximise synergies. Businesses can only grow and flourish if they develop their individual strengths and look for synergies with partners. This needs to be a continuous process.
  • Build relationships and a platform that encourages involvement. Trusted partners can provide insight and different views on challenges the business faces. More options and a better solution can only be found if assumptions are challenged and different points of view are sought.

If your business is part of a village, you have partners that can provide much needed support in difficult times. Because your success is their success.

Building a business requires trusting relationships. The foundation of any trusting relationship starts with similar values. If values do not align, the relationship can never be trusting. This will lead to under performance and a waste of energy and time.

Successful relationships require communication. Regular and clear communication between employees and between partners are essential. Not the village-gossip kind of communication, but communication that grows and builds.

At wauko we are building our village and becoming part of a village. The opportunities and growth from thinking this way are astounding.

Are you building a village? We would love to hear your story. Connect with us and perhaps we can grow our villages together.


  1. A group of people who provide emotional and practical help to someone in serious difficulty.
  2. Gallup


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