Being a good community manager can sometimes feel like a secret sauce, but today the secret’s out. At Mobilize, we work with awesome community leaders each day and we’ve noticed ten common themes from the leaders of our most engaged communities. Practice these ten tried-and-true themes for community leadership and you’ll have a thriving community in no time.
10 best practices for community leadership
1. Lead your community with storytelling and a commitment to a bright future
Movements need leaders and you’re one of them. Your community is looking to you for vision and inspiration. Validate their feelings when times are good and times get tough, show them you’re in this together, and remind them of the big picture. Leverage storytelling to embolden your community members and rally them together.
2. Share responsibility
When it comes to community management, it really does take a village. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone and your members will benefit when you get them more involved. Notice the active community members who you can trust and invite them to lead with you. Consider giving them moderation or group manager permissions, invite their feedback and advice about your community strategy, and speak with them on phone or video to demonstrate your trust in them and get the support you need.
3. Get in the trenches with the community
Shares struggles and challenges candidly, plus acknowledge others who are struggling too. Vulnerability is a powerful tool that leads to belonging.
4. Practice empathy
Practice deep empathy for what your community members are saying. If they’re taking the time to participate, then what they’re saying matters to them (whether they’re saying something positive or not).
5. Stay humble
Set an example for your community members. Stay humble, keep your ego in check, and maintain a healthy amount of perspective. Bonus: your community members will like you more.
6. Kindly read between the lines
People often say one thing but mean something else. Sometimes this looks like people having an outburst that isn’t actually about your community, but it’s about something happening in their personal life. The same goes for feedback about your campaign or community. Be patient and consider what’s underneath the surface.
7. Stand your ground
As a community manager, you are an authority figure. It’s possible to be kind, positive, and authoritative all at the same time, and that’s the sweet spot for a community manager. In order for people to take you seriously, you’re going to need to stand your ground. As Carrie at Gather Community Consulting recommends, set positive boundaries with members and ensure that people don’t step over you.
8. Assume the best intentions
Online communication is inherently tough because you don’t know how someone will interpret your message. We’ve all been on both sides of that coin. So, assume the best intentions of your community members. This is an opportunity to lead by example.
9. Kill ‘em with kindness
Be relentlessly positive. The more positive you are, the more positive your community members will be. This is particularly powerful in an online community, where a few negative actors can change the tone of the entire group. Rather than playing into negative energy or lashing out, kill ‘em with kindness. Reply with compassion and kindness and, even when they’re negative, express gratitude for someone’s contribution.
10. Show your fun side
In an online setting, it’s important to remind people that you’re a human, too! To the extent that it fits into your mission, silliness is a good way to remind people of your humanity. Plus, the more fun you have together, the more people will want to contribute to your community.