How To Destroy a Community

A Leader

As it turns out, it’s ridiculously easy for a leader to destroy a community. Doing any one of the following could be fatal:

  • Disrespect community members (or former members);
  • Give the members something to fight about (unless you run a fight club);
  • Allow them to fight rather than collaborate on a solution;
  • Use the community’s resources without returning just as much, if not more;
  • Identify a person (rather than a thing/an event) as an enemy to rally against;
  • Emphasize a Victim over a Victor mentality;
  • Handle criticism poorly;
  • Boot out the most vocal members without trying to channel their enthusiasm (here’s a hint: the most vocal care the most);
  • Allow it to stagnate by avoiding any and all risks.

But, if you want to grow or save a community:

  • Respect community members (and honor, don’t martyr, former members);
  • Give the members something relevant and timely to debate;
  • Provide a toolkit for members to solve their own problems;
  • Give the community more value than you take from it;
  • Identify something to rally against or for (but never make it personal unless you can afford the stakes);
  • Transform Victims into Victors;
  • Take all criticism with a grain of salt – but never let it wound you (they only complain because they care – if they didn’t care, all you’d hear is silence);
  • Support and channel the most vocal members;
  • Embrace change by taking calculated risks.

It takes practice. It takes patience. It takes a lot of energy. Step up or step out of the way.