This week we’re talking about leading, managing, and motivating your community. Whether that’s your audience on Instagram, the students in your group program or a whole Facebook group loaded with potential customers or clients.
This tends to be one of those online business owner skills that you don’t realize you need until you need it. Because it’s not just about creating a space for discussion, it’s about building a community where everyone feels important, seen, heard, and included. Which (at least in my communities) turns into motivation to get shit done.
Connect with the panelists:
Stephanie Gilbert: https://www.instagram.com/askannmarierose/
Sarah Summers: https://www.instagram.com/sarahsummers.co/
AnnMarie Rose: https://www.instagram.com/stephjgilbert/
This week we’re talking about leading and managing a community. This is one of those online business owner skills that you don’t realize you need until you need it – until you’ve got a Facebook group full of people or you’ve got an audience on Instagram or an email list full of subscribers.
That’s when you go on Amazon and start googling leadership books because it’s not just about putting the information out there it’s about building a community where everyone feels important and seen and heard and included. Which (at least in my communities) turns into motivation to get shit done.
This week you’ll be hearing from Stephanie Gilbert who is a mentor to social media managers and hosts in-person retreats for her social media CEOs. She has experience with both on and offline community building.
You’ll hear from Sarah Summers who is a coach teaching others to start and grow paid mastermind groups. Sarah is a member of the Essentials and she is so good at asking questions that help lead the discussion and creating safe spaces for deeper conversation.
You’ll also hear from AnnMarie Rose, an online business strategist, who helps coaches and consultants elevate their impact and income. She’s run many group coaching programs. I actually met AnnMarie in person last week at a mastermind event she was co-hosting so I can say first hand she has great leadership and community-building skills.
They all have great insights into being great community leaders. Go grab something to take notes with and let’s dive in.
Hey, I’m Stephanie Gilbert, founder of the social media CEO. I help social media service providers start, systemize, and scale thriving social media management businesses. The social media CEO is a community first and foremost. It was created as a way to connect with other social media marketers and provide them with training and resources to help them feel less like an employee and more like the CEO of their own business.
One way I like to lead the community is by openly sharing the story of how I got started as a social media manager and how I scaled my business into an agency model later on with others who want to do this. I believe in radical transparency in every area of my life, so I bring that value into my community too.
I don’t like to sugarcoat things or paint entrepreneurship as something that’s easy. We don’t promote any overnight success. However, I do pride myself on creating solutions that make running a social media management business much simpler because I’ve made mistakes along the way that I want my community to avoid, if at all possible. I’m an open book about the steps and the missteps I’ve taken to get where I am.
My favorite way to motivate the members of our community is by showing them what’s possible. My team and I don’t just highlight my personal success, but we also share what other social media service providers have accomplished in their businesses.
We love to highlight social media managers who are doing amazing things and creating expert-level content within the social media CEO community, which allows us to create a much more relatable and diverse experience versus if it was just me talking at everyone all the time. I’m only one person and I’ve only had one single lived experience.
My personal story isn’t necessarily relatable to everyone who’s offering social media services. By leaning into the stories of our community members and providing them with a platform to share their journey, we’ve been able to connect with so many more people than we would if it was just me standing on the edge of a mountain with a megaphone.
I know for a fact that my business wouldn’t exist without the strong community behind it. I feel extremely lucky, not only to support them but to have their support.
Such a good reminder to share the journey of community members. I love this because you don’t, as the leader, have to be the one and only example and the model of how things can work. That’s something I do with my community as well – ask others to share their stories in order to provide more ideas and options to everyone we’re working with. They have examples of trying different things to see what works for them best.
Next up is Sarah
Hi, I’m Sarah Summers. I run mastermind groups for online entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of scaling their businesses. I teach others in various industries how to start, grow, and monetize their own mastermind groups. No matter the stage of business you’re in, adding a mastermind group to your existing business instantly adds a revenue stream and a built-in support system to your business.
Now my particular area of expertise is guiding entrepreneurs into alignment with their business goals. Sarah asked how I lead, manage and motivate my community. Well, the mastermind groups I run are by nature, small and intimate. Managing and motivating almost any group starts before people even join.
No matter the size of the group, in order for a group to be successful, I find that it’s helpful to carefully curate who’s in the group to start with. This is true, really in any size group, especially a small group like masterminds, or in the beginning stages of growing a larger group. Utilizing ways of knowing who belongs and who doesn’t belong is imperative to the success of any group.
I find in a small group, especially I lead by learning and I learn by staying curious in a true mastermind group. The leader really is just a facilitator. They must be skilled at giving others the mic and knowing when to pass it on to the next person. They will succeed when everyone is sharing their experiences to help the other members.
The leader’s job is to create a culture where they feel comfortable and even safe to share those experiences. You have to be genuinely interested in knowing your members. This is how you know who to pass the mic to. When someone has presented a challenge they need help solving, I create that culture and manage my groups by setting clear expectations and enforcing boundaries.
Now I know that that does not sound sexy at all, but it is. We love to know what to expect. We come together with completely different personalities, perspectives, and experiences. We also come together with only the knowledge of how others have led us in the past. Your members don’t know what kind of leader you are until you show them.
Telling them up front, especially in a fun way, what they can expect from you and what you expect from them even before joining the community is how they are able to find success in your group.
Now, motivation can be tricky, yet it often comes naturally. I find that the people most motivated are the ones who know why they’re a part of your group in the first place. If they’re there because their buddy is, it probably won’t last long and they probably won’t find much success and they may even complain about you in another group. If they’re there because they have a clear and aligned goal, you almost can’t mess it up. If your actions, as a leader are always done with the intention of assisting your members in their results, the motivation comes naturally.
One way of motivating your group is to offer opportunities for them to shine. Not unlike this opportunity for me to appear here on The Dare to Grow Show podcast! I was so excited for this opportunity to be given to me. It’s actually given me a little bit of a boost of creativity in other areas of my business and made me think of new ways that I may be able to share with my own community.
Think about your own group. What can you do to offer those group members opportunities, small or large opportunities? This may be just asking questions and letting people show off their knowledge. It might be repeating and acknowledging an idea that someone else already had, but since you’re the leader, making sure that you restate it as their idea actually makes your other group members pay attention to that and acknowledge them for that idea that they had.
It might be as simple as a little acknowledgment and encouragement directly from you, either in private or in public. If you’re running a small group, finding out how your members are motivated using simple tools like the Enneagram or Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies are a great way to have some really quick insight into how you can best serve them in the area of motivation.
One last thing, whether it’s a small group or a large group, people tend to join for the promise that you’ve made as their leader. However, they tend to stay in a group because of the community that they find there. Your job is really just to be an example of how you want your community to interact with each other and they will follow suit.
I love talking about building different types of communities. If you’re [reading] this and don’t know about Sarah’s membership, The Essentials, check it out and come hang out with me. You can also DM me anytime on Instagram @sarahsummers.co. And I hope this has sparked an incredible and impactful idea for you.
Thank you, Sarah! I have to repeat something you said at the start so we can all cement it into our brains – “Lead by learning and learn by staying curious.” Leadership can feel like a big responsibility, but that feels doable – listen, stay curious, ask questions. We can all do that and it’s something you can practice in your daily life.
Ok – now let’s hear from AnnMarie.
My name is Anne Marie Rose, and I’m an online business strategist and a bit more of what I do and what we do in our business will come up as I share what our community is all about and how I approach leading that community. Our primary community, the one that I’m in and leading on a day-to-day basis, is made up of our paid clients inside of our group consulting experience – Elevate Now. These are established business owners who are coaches, consultants, and experts who are really ready; they’re at that point where they are growing and scaling, or sometimes even pivoting into that next phase of success in their online business.
Part of my approach to leadership is really rooted in intention and integrity. Now, I’m an “examples” person, so I want to share what that actually looks like. Leading with intention for me starts with understanding the circumstances of our clients as they’re coming into our community, as well as the outcome they’re looking to experience from being part of our community.
For example, I know that our clients are coming to us looking to solidify a business model that allows them to fully own their brilliance so they can show up each and every day in their business in a way that actually feels good and fully aligned with who they are while generating the income and making the impact that they deeply desire to make. They want to stop selling and offering offers that drain them. They also want to stop struggling to stand out with cookie-cutter messaging. They’re over the hustle of doing all the things to market their business. They constantly feel like they have to get new clients rather than attract those right fit, dreamy clients they want to work with. They are frankly, over the pressure of feeling like they need to adhere to other people’s blueprints for success.
Knowing those circumstances of where our clients are coming into our community from, or with, helps me to more deeply understand what they’re desiring – the outcome they’re looking to experience – which is having that solid business model, having a really clear and authentic brand message, having streamlined and optimized marketing strategies that truly feel good and that get them the results they desire. They want to ultimately enjoy making the income and the impact that they’re making.
Knowing the mission they’re on allows me to show up and lead them towards that with intention and understanding. Knowing where they are in their business, that they are established business owners, they’re not brand new, I can also lead with intention and integrity by holding sacred, community space for someone who is at that place in their business.
If someone comes to me looking for support and they maybe just set their domain up for their very first business and they’re looking for their very first client, and again, it’s their first business ever, they would be better served in a community that’s more tailored to brand new business owners. That’s leading with integrity and intention.
It really starts for me with holding that space sacred and knowing which people with which circumstances are going to be best served as part of the community. That keeps the community and the integrity of the community strong.
I’m also all about leading by example and with my intuition. I’m in the trenches to a degree, I’m doing the things, I’m walking the talk. It really helps our entire community to show up to be brave, to be courageous because I’ll go first. I will test something out, but I also have staying power and I’ve shown that. So, I’ll try things out for myself, but then I’ll thoroughly communicate to my community my experiences, without sugarcoating it.
My leadership style is just being really clear, leading by example, but then backing that up with thorough communication. In addition to that, I use my intuition. This starts by just listening to what our clients really want. Listening to their struggles and also carving up the time as a leader, to listen to myself, to listen to what I want to listen to, my own inner voice, and be able to consistently lead from that place of knowing who I am and where I’m headed. Everybody else can do the same in a better way when I set that tone.
Finally, I am ultimately leading through empowerment. That’s really my approach. My strategy, if you will, for leadership is empowerment. It’s our number one core value in our business. I’m not here to create a community that is codependent on my leadership. I’m here to empower business owners who are here doing amazing work in the world, who are really on a mission to empower others. I am helping them to make powerful decisions in their business, set them up with the strategic foundation for success so they can continue to grow and scale even. When their time inside of our community comes to an end if it comes to an end – if, and when it wraps up, they’re fully empowered to continue leveling up their success, elevating their impact, elevating their income because they are fully empowered as leaders in their own right.
Love that you talked a little about boundaries there and not taking clients or members that aren’t going to be a good match for what you do. I remember that was so hard at the beginning to focus on a specific type of business owner when I really could help lots of other people too. That does really help to keep the goals of the program or community on track and allows you to take action with shared values, which attracts more of the right people.
If you’re just getting started, don’t have a community yet or you aren’t running group programs, you can and should still build a community. It’s an “if you build it, they will come” sort of thing. You have to create ways for people to get involved, to feel part of the group, and want to show up more.
Three ways I like to do this:
Create a weekly or monthly thing they can get involved in. When I was first offering web design services I created a thing called Fix-It Friday. Once a month I’d publish a blog post and ask people to post something for feedback. Most often it was their website or blog posts, but then social media became part of it too.
At first, I would get maybe 10 comments, but then it grew and I was giving feedback to 50, 60, 70 people on one post. People started looking for the post, remembering to show up and comment, even messaging the next day bummed that they missed it. If you are already doing something weekly or monthly, just give it a name and be consistent. Your community will catch on.
When I run coaching calls for The Essentials, everyone is allowed to chime in. I tell new members that I am not the one authority on marketing so if they have something to say they’re welcome to unmute themselves and share. This way it’s a discussion and not just me answering questions. Everyone feels important, and included, and heard, and members get to know each other. They connect outside the group, follow and encourage each other. It feels like a big group of friends rather than me just yelling advice from a mountain top.
Hire someone to do the small stuff, so you can focus on leading your community. If I’m always scheduling posts, sending emails, adding and removing members from the Facebook group that’s less time I have to spend in the community, not just interacting but thinking about what my Essentials members need to stay focused on their goals, take actions, do the scary stuff, and to feel like they can always come to me or the group for help and support. If I’m in the weeds with admin work I’m not going to be able to pay attention. Having an assistant or community manager can help a lot. I have my VA doing these tasks. Even if it’s just an hour a week, that’s an hour a week you get back for other things.