7 Habits of Highly Effective Movement Leaders

Or, what can Obama teach you about scaling your business?

What if you could build a movement of people — around your city, state, country or even the entire world — who share your vision, are excited to promote your message, and want to take action to promote your business/brand? This sounds powerful, right? This is the job movement leaders take on.

What would that movement look like, and more importantly, require of you?

The dictionary definition of a movement is a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social or artistic ideas. Think of the civil rights movement, the Occupy Wall Street Movement or even the Slow Food movement. These are all inspiring manifestations of what impact and power people can have when they join forces.

When we think about movements at Mobilize, we think not only about global movements, but also about how to enable everyday groups and businesses to drive impact through gathering people around shared goals and vision.

Creating a movement around your business can help you amplify your impact. Whether you are looking to build brand awareness, create a new market category, increase sales, or launch your service in new cities — building a brand ambassador network, developer group, reseller network or a distributed workforce can help you reach your business goals, faster. Building a movement is not reserved only for global leaders in the corridors of the United Nations or Washington, DC. Building a movement is an art form we can all learn, practice, and implement.

Here are the best practices and steps you need to take to build a movement around your brand, so reach towards your inner Gandhi or other leader of choice. Let’s dig in:

1. Define Your Mission Statement. Movements are driven by ideas.

In my previous post, I wrote about the significance of developing a strong vision and identity for your movement.

To translate your vision and identity into a more tangible driver of your movement, you need to define your mission statement.

Dig inside and ask yourself: what is the goal you want to promote? Your group must share your passion in making it a reality. That shared goal is your mission statement.

Then, articulate and share your mission statement with your potential audience. You can even write out a manifesto (awesome example here) that details the mission statement, core values and guiding principles of your movement.

2. Recruit. Only People Make a Movement Move Forward.

Who are those unique individuals who will relate to your vision, join your movement and drive it forward?

Build a persona — a profile that describes what characterizes those unique individuals. The profile must include three important elements:

(a) General information such as common age, gender, location and areas of expertise or interest;

(b) Where they can be found — What chat groups or social platforms do they gravitate towards? Are they members of specific clubs or other movements?

(c) And most importantly, what motivates this broader group of people. What’s in it for them? Why would they want to join your group? What role/part would they likely feel comfortable taking and how much time can they devote?

3. Pick an Impactful and Repeatable Action(s). Participation is Key.

Movements must have a defined set of actions, routines, and milestones.

It’s your job as a leader to determine which actions and events are associated with the vision, easily repeatable, and most impactful.

For example, The Rising Tide Society (RTS) is a movement focused on the development and growth of creative entrepreneurs. On the third Tuesday of every month, this movement’s regional groups meet in-person to network and learn from a local expert. To prepare the group for this monthly event, RTS hosts its local leaders for a monthly organizing meeting the week before, to discuss the topic and answer any anticipated questions.

Make it memorable — A final consideration is that any action you select or create should both help your members anticipate them, and be easy to capture and share more broadly.

For example, RTS members who attend the events capture pictures, post them to Instagram and tag the movement with their own unique #hashtags.

4. Be ready to coach. Materials, Materials, Materials.

You need to feed your movement all the time. Think through the materials that will educate your ambassadors, broader group, and new members.

Effective movement leaders design an on-boarding journey that guides members from the moment they show interest in the movement, all the way to “converting them” to become an active member.

The supporting materials will make it easier to sync and educate everyone about the vision, goal(s), expected actions, and how an individual can get more involved over time. The assets that support this can include: scripts for anticipated conversations, FAQs, contact lists, event planning guidelines, a calendar of important events and milestone timelines. For example, in Obama’s Organizing for Action campaign, the movement grew organically very fast since it was easy for people to take part in it — every person who wanted to participate could easy get all of the materials online, including free SWAG delivery to their home.

5. Motivate. Reward + Repeat.

This leads us to rewards and celebrations. With broader visions and efforts, movements will likely resemble a longer campaign effort spanning months or even years. Therefore, you want to be conscious of how you are celebrating successes of all sizes and how you’re rewarding people for driving significant projects within the movement or recruiting new partners.

These rewards do not have to be significant, but they need to be regular and achievable to keep a consistent sense of forward momentum.

Your rewards should also include some manner of sharing the accomplishments of the individual and broader group. Not only will everyone feel more motivated within the campaign, but people outside your movement will likely develop a healthy bit of FOMO!

6. Communicate. Consistent Relationship Building is Key.

Building a movement is all about relationships. To be successful, a communicator has to spend time thinking about which channels are most convenient for others. All too often, communicators overestimate the level of interest a stakeholder group may have for their issue or organization. Be brutally realistic about how your organization ranks in the stakeholder’s “attention economy”. In particular, resist the temptation to believe a stakeholder will want to read everything that you send them. In addition, think about how often they’ll want to hear from you, and what kinds of information they’ll be most interested in and motivated by.

7. Grow more Leaders. Plan for Scale.

In order to ensure you build a movement that can scale, you must have two elements in place. First, build a strong leadership. If you effectively select and grow strong leaders, they’ll organically attract more people and create more groups, further expanding your movement. To attract these leaders, you need to learn who will simply be vocal about your movement, versus who will actually inspire others to carry the movement’s message and vision forward. Spend time thinking about how to find active leaders and what you will task them with to sustain and scale your movement. Second, create an ever evolving playbook for your leaders. Constantly update this playbook with lessons from previous efforts, campaigns and leaders.

One last tip? Thanks for asking!

Enjoy Every Second of it.

Movements mean that you are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. Movements are all about people coming together to advance a shared goal. Movement builders and community organizers work very hard to get (and keep!) everything moving forward.

They get their energy by being around people and seeing them carrying and amplifying their vision. Only by truly enjoying and appreciating these moments of togetherness will you continue to recharge yourself and others as you grow your movement.

Work with experts who build successful communities

Mobilize is made up of community experts who have launched communities for the likes of the National Restaurant Association, United Nations’ SDSN, Dermalogica, and more. We work with you to align your business goals with a tailored community strategy to ensure its success.

Whether you’re just getting started or are looking to improve outcomes with your existing community — we have strategies and industry-tailored programs to help you get things done. Schedule a demo for a personalized walk-through of our technology and learn about our expert-led strategy services.