Community building, Churchill style

by Martin Reed on 16 July 2012 in Snippets

Inc. recently posted a great article entitled, ‘What Would Winston Do?‘ – although it’s aimed at business leaders, it should be a must-read for all community managers.

What you need to take away from the article is the following snippet:

Great leaders inspire greatness.

In his early days as Prime Minister, Churchill also had to exhort a war-weary military, Parliament, and public to stay the course. In a make-or-break speech to the House of Commons, Churchill acknowledged “the darker side of our danger and burdens” and went on to say, “It is in adversity that British qualities shine the brightest, and it is under these extraordinary tests that the character of our slowly wrought institutions reveals its latent, invisible strength.” The speech has been credited with helping to revive Britain’s sagging spirits and gradually changing the course of the war.

If you want to get more from members of your online community, you need to highlight their positive traits.

If you’re not convinced about how effective this strategy can be, consider this: a Harvard study split a group of Asian American women into two groups and gave them a math test. Before the test, one group was reminded that they were women (who are perceived to be weaker at math). The other group were reminded they were Asian Americans (who are perceived to be stronger at math). The first group under-performed, whilst the second group excelled.

A similar study placed math test participants in two groups – one group were role playing the position of boss, the other group were role playing the position of assistant. The assistants scored lower.

As a community manager, you want to be inspiring your members. You need to be leading by example. You need to highlight positive traits, delegate responsibility and leadership, and keep negativity behind closed doors.

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Tommy T July 18, 2012 at 4:57 am

Sound, solid advice. Loving the Churchill reference by the way haha! But yes I wholeheartedly agree. Inspire often, compliment often (careful not to alienate other members, though!), always shine out a positive, optimistic attitude and overall – make sure you remind your members how important they are!

Kendall M. Hoover July 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

I agree with Tommy T about reminding your readers how important they are — it’s just common courtesy to thank them for where you are!

Sara Smith August 6, 2012 at 4:02 am

I have to admit that I have never heard before of the Churchill reference! But it sounds good and logical. I have to tell this my Boss haha!

Tom Marin November 7, 2012 at 7:03 am

never thought i’d apply churchill’s words to what i do haha!

Eric Bourdon November 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

Churchill dealt with negativity the finest way: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” That means you keep negativity behind closed doors if needed, but most of the time you transform it…