No Shiny Red Balls: Community Leadership Starts with Attention (Yours)

Beware of 'shiny object syndrome' that can lead you astray. Maintaining focus is crucial in community leadership. Distractions can lead to a loss of purpose, resulting in disengaged members and a community that drifts aimlessly.

No Shiny Red Balls: Community Leadership Starts with Attention (Yours)

Community leadership can be a complex endeavor, where strategic thinking, deep understanding of human nature, and the ability to anticipate the needs of your community members is essential.

But it can also be really really simple: share something you've learned with people who also want to learn it.

The Silent Community Choice

So how do people make that choice when building community? It comes down to experience.

Builders who aren't really into something, comfortable with it, and curious about it – these people choose complexity.

Builders who love something, know what they don't know, these people are open to sharing and discussing the topic. Engaging others. Sharing the stage. This energy, this approach, is most onducive to community success.

If you are over-indexing on complexity, go back to the basics!

The Problem of Distraction

Beware of 'shiny object syndrome' that can lead you astray. Maintaining focus is crucial in community leadership.

Distractions can lead to a loss of purpose, resulting in disengaged members and a community that drifts aimlessly.

You know you're on the right track with your community start when:

  • You've been deeply involved in the community's focus area for more than three months.
  • You've experienced a personal transformation or change, which has further fueled your commitment.
  • You can articulate this change and its impact to others, inspiring them with your journey.

The Story of Weight Watchers: Personal Journey to Community Powerhouse

Let's take a page from the story of Weight Watchers. It began with Jean Nidetch, a woman in her late 30s struggling with her weight. After finally finding success through a clinic, she didn't keep this secret to herself; she shared it with friends in her apartment. This was the seed that grew into the Weight Watchers we know today. Jean's journey illustrates three critical insights for community leaders:

  1. Your People Need a Place to Talk It Out: Just like those initial apartment meetings, your community needs a space where members can openly share and discuss their challenges and victories.
  2. Community Leader as Role Model: You're not just leading; you're blazing a trail. Show the way but and inspire others to step up and lead as they reach their goals, just like Jean did.
  3. The Power of Collective Wisdom: Members benefit immensely from being together. In sharing information, experiences, and support, there's immense value created, enriching everyone involved.

Community Focus is Directionality

In community leadership, you are like a captain steering a ship. Navigation considers all the factors involved in getting from where you are today to where you want to be.

Your personal journey is the launching pad; the next step is to provide clear direction for your community.

You can do this by defining both the overarching mission and the specific paths that members can follow.

Community Mission Formula from Community Empire

[name the community] exists to [Mission]. We provide [Value] so that our members can [Dream Outcome]

Mission: the community's core purpose.

Value: the benefits members gain from joining the community.

Dream Outcome: what your members want to achieve.

This clarity of purpose and direction is your compass, helping to navigate the community toward its collective goals.

Communities that align members' individual aspirations with the community's broader objectives are the most successful.

Seeding the Community for Growth: Energy to Resources

View your community as a garden that thrives under your care. Your sustained interest and evolving curiosity provide a nurturing environment for this garden to grow.

Like a gardener who knows when to water and when to let the sun do its work, you must balance your involvement and allow the community to develop organically.

  • Use the information you've gathered and learned as the seeds to share and enrich the community.
  • Monitor the community balance, the space between having answers and fostering curiosity with questions.
  • Give support when needed, space when required, and independence when appropriate.

Responsive and Adaptive Leadership

Adaptability is a key trait in effective community leadership. You must be attuned to the evolving needs and aspirations of your members.

It's not about you being the expert, it's about you being the leader. These are two very different vibes – experts inform, leaders connect.

Ensuring that the community remains relevant and responsive involves:

  • Creating a space where members can freely give feedback and feel heard.
  • Finding a middle ground between individual member needs and the overarching goals of the community.
  • Creating opportunities for members to assume leadership roles, fostering a sense of ownership and involvement.

The Final Word

If you can't talk for five minutes and convince someone at a dinner party why they should be interested in what you are probably shouldn't be a building a community.

Community is communication – through actions, through conversations, and through adaptation.

It takes a special person to be able to lead this evolving experience.

Are you ready?