"The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly."
A forum, network or any organization for that matter is only as good as the leader’s commitment to it. The number one goal of the leader should be to create the right environment for its members to succeed. That’s not to say that the network leader should not get anything out of the exchange. Quite the contrary! Although most network leaders start a network or forum for the purpose of “networking” and sharing his or her own expertise with a “captive” audience, there are also other reasons such as to learn how and to practice leading, to sharpen their own skills, to gain knowledge and to make friends.
As a leader of many organizations and most recently a new RYZE network leader (Her Mastermind Network), I have observed the leaders of more than 100 forums, and found the most active forums are those run by men and women with common traits and skills. Here’s a list of 20 characteristics the best leaders share (in no particular order):
1. Good leaders clearly define the purpose of the network.
2. Good leaders set a course of action that reinforces the purpose – it could be with a specific agenda or daily topic calendar or it could be with a list of guidelines that support the purpose.
3. Good leaders never tell or ask others to do something that they do not or would not do themselves.
4. Good leaders don’t have to have the last word in a conversation (thread).
5. Good leaders treat others like they want to be treated. One of my favorite sayings is “you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” and it’s evident on many of the boards.
6. Good leaders know it’s not just about them. It’s about all of them! They allow others to appropriately promote themselves – such as on a specific day.
7. Good leaders recruit other leaders to help (co-moderators or topic facilitators), which increases participation and gives others the opportunity to shine.
8. Good leaders recognize involvement by thanking members for posting, sharing their own expertise or asking good questions.
9. Good leaders ask for feedback, surveying the members to find out what they need from the forum. If there is a common or recurring request, the leader will take action to comply with the request.
10. Good leaders stop by members home page and say hi, or PM them once in a while.
11. Good leaders welcome and introduce new members publicly. It is amazing how much excitement this simple act will generate among other members.
12. Good leaders find and share resources.
13. Good leaders encourage interaction among members by asking thought-provoking questions.
14. Good leaders don’t have too many rules.
15. Good leaders are positive and optimistic – they use positive words to express themselves.
16. Good leaders never admonish members publicly; they “PM” the member who may need to be set straight.
17. Good leaders acknowledge others publicly – after all, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs the number one thing people need (after all our needs for survival are met) is that of recognition.
18. Good leaders will remove toxic members – a little controversy can be good especially when it encourages dialogue among members, however, too much of it can become toxic and off-putting to members. If this happens frequently the good people will leave.
19. Good leaders invite members to talk about themselves – that includes what they do professionally as well as their personal lives. True networking cannot take place until people get to know, like and trust one another.
20. Good leaders say thank you, often.
One of my favorite quotes is by Lao Tsu (Taoist philosopher that lived more than 3,000 years ago) - “The Leader's role is ultimately to help people learn to lead themselves.”
Heidi Richards, Founder & CEO TheWECAINetwork™ - “Helping Women Do Business on and off the WEB™”
EdenFlorist - "NO Reason is the BEST Reason to Send Flowers!
Be sure to check out the Women’s Writing & Publishing Summit taking place Online July 19-21st, 2007