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Community Leader Tip #2: Consistency Builds Trust


Hi. I'm Alison Cebulla and many of you may know me as a Community Facilitator at PACEs Connection of the Northeast, Midatlantic, Southwest, and International Communities. I also produce our A Better Normal series and other live Zoom events.

Many burgeoning community leaders ask me, "what can I do to make a bigger difference?" This is a big question with no one right answer. So I'm going to start writing small pieces with little tips that can help.

Community Leader Tip #2: Consistency Builds Trust

According to a 2019 study published by Harvard Business Review, consistency is one of the 3 elements of trust. If you are starting a PACEs initiative and you are wanting people to rally behind you, attend your events, share ideas with you, and meet and set goals together, you will need to demonstrate through your actions that people can trust you. The HBR article said that people trust someone as a leader who "walk the talk, honor commitments and keep promises, and follow through on commitments."

Practically, the way I see this working in a PACEs initiative, or any community coalition you may be starting, is to have:

  1. Steering or planning committee meetings at regular intervals
  2. Public-facing events at regular intervals

The steering/planning committee could meet every month, say, the second Tuesday of the month, and plan the course of action. These meetings need to stay regular so people build trust that they're going to happen as planned. The more they happen as planning, the more trust increases, and the more important things your coalition will be able to tackle together.

The public-facing events should also happen at regular intervals. If you have a film screening every quarter, make sure they happen every quarter, as planned. If you have a speaker event monthly, make sure they happen monthly as planned. I will talk about the different types of events you can plan in a future post. Here is Cissy White's guide to film screenings.

In 2010 I started a local networking event for environmentalists called "Green Drinks" in my hometown of San Luis Obispo, CA. 2 people showed to the first meeting. But I stuck with it and had another meeting in 2 months, and another meeting in 2 months, and another one, 6 events per year. By the time I moved to NYC in 2013, the event gathered hundreds of people and raised thousands of dollars for local charities. I later in 2017 helped San Diego Green Drinks gain a loyal, regular following after years of inconsistent management through consistent monthly events. These monthly events are still happening 4 years later. As a result, the movers and shakers of San Diego have a home base, a job network, a place to become inspired, a place to share ideas, and a place to make friends with like-minded community members. San Diego's environmental scene is thriving and the regular Green Drinks events are part of the reason why.

Child trauma doesn't quite lend itself to the sort of fun meet-for-a-drink type events like Green Drinks due to the often heartbreaking nature of our workβ€”but giving people a regular, consistent way to check in with people in their field through your events is going to inspire your community to bigger and bolder things.

Plan meetings at regular intervals: weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly.

Plan events are regular intervals: monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, annually (think annual conferences).

Stick with it, even if you start with 2 attendees (this goes for steering committee membership numbers as well), and once people know you're serious and here to stay, your coalition will build momentum.

Thanks for reading my Community Leader Tip #2! Please comment with anything I've missed. Additionally, if you know of other related resources or ideas, please share them in the comments.

Do you have an example of using this tip successfully? What are you looking forward to getting started on now? Please share in the comments!

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