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6 Principles to Lead a Thriving Community

And a leadership skill is called Improv!

Today, communities have become a tool and a marketing tactic for many organizations used to build brand awareness and sell more of their products.

Years ago, American Express started a small business community until they forgot that their brand matters less than their audience’s needs and challenges. I also often hear people complaining about WeWork‘s unfulfilled promise of their “private, professional, social network for members to access the global community “.

However, when a community is based on good intention and thought as a way to improve people’s lives, it can infuse an amazing feeling of empowerment and life-changing opportunities for the community as a whole, and for the leader of that community.

A few years ago, while working as the EVP Marketing for an energy company located in Brooklyn, NY, I hired Tom Asacker, a brand consultant who taught me several leadership values that, today, as the Founder of the AcornOak Agency, I teach in my innovation workshop.

Here are those 6 principles on how to lead a thriving community and empower other people:

Principle #1: Be a Guide

It starts with an awareness and a choice of leading a team by being their guide, a sort of sherpa because it’s about helping people go where they desire to go. The key is really to turn the expectation into a selfless desire for the well being of the other person. It’s not about your journey, rather, it’s about their own journey.

Principle #2: Understand Your Community

Once you have made the decision to guide people where they want to go, you need to understand their perspectives, their desires, and their beliefs. This requires a true listening approach based on a Socratic method and a suspension of your current assumptions. Ask them what it is that they are trying to accomplish.

Principle #3: Inspire Your Community

Inspire your community with a deep understanding of their desires and beliefs. To inspire, you need to set a good example of behavior and engagement inside your community.

People See, People Do.

Reassurance, support and recognition help people understand the right way to engage with one another and the community as a whole. Remove bad conduct and highlight positive conduct. You have to paint a beautiful picture of where you want the community to go, let each individual interpret it through their own lens and inspire them to climb the mountain.

Principle #4: Give Your Community Control

Make the community theirs by giving them control. It’s the job of the community leader to help the community focus on the essentials. You’re the guide on the trip, don’t let them get distracted by other content or dialogue that takes away from the mission.

That being said, (note principle #6) you have to walk the fine line between too much structure and not enough. Unfortunately (or fortunately) each community is different from one another and what works for one community may not work for others.

Principle #5: Make it Easy

One of the last steps is to simplify the process of engagement and make their progress visible. Give them goals and measurements. Celebrate the correct decisions and behaviors, ignore the bad ones and update people on what is going on. Making it easier for people to engage is essential to lowering the barrier for engagement and drive 

Principle #6: Refrain Yourself

Finally, control your impulses. Don’t tell people what to do in a way that it is directing. Your thinking mind will want to control others for its own safety.

It’s important to understand that you are a guide and not a hero in their story and that life is not about being right or wrong but rather expressing creativity without any fears others’ opinion. Often times, leaders and managers don’t want to give away control based on the fear of what others might say, but it’s imperative to let that control go.

This leadership skill is called Improv. Watch this 2-minute video to discover what this new skill is all about. Leading with Improv means no more ego and no more self-concerned story. Being a leader means empowering a community to thrive through pure creation and co-creation. 

As Lao Tzu wrote, “ A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.“

This post was originally posted on HoneyCommb blog. Honeycommb is the best consumer grade, complete, fan capture and engagement solution in the world that gives you total control and ownership over all data and content in your custom social network.

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