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.