Community management is the future of organizational leadership because the field centers emotional intelligence alongside measurable outcomes. With a little time, an approved strategic plan, and a keen awareness of how to navigate emotion in the workplace, communities are growing and producing strong foundations for business success.
The push towards a community mindset is a push towards a more effective, efficient, and lucrative business model that harnesses the power of the user base to drive trust, brand confidence, and retention.
This fact is why mindset shifting is one of the main crusades of community management. The more people in a business who understand how community impacts business outcomes, the more shared value between community and the company.
Although a community mindset can be defined in many ways, the key components include an emphasis on including varying voices and perspectives for feedback, accountability to stakeholders through metrics, and as mentioned above, EQ.
Emotional intelligence is broadly defined by the ability to identify and work with your emotions and the emotions of others. This skill is critical when managing a community as well as when operating a business. It’s not enough to have a captive audience ie… an engaged community, if you don’t know what to do with the feedback you acquire. Particularly when the feedback is not so pleasant, it is essential to be able to process your emotions and then try to understand the feelings of the individual who expresses concern, anger, frustration, etc.
Why is this so important? The SOCM 2019 found that communities propel engagement. A large part of the high engagement rates in community is the empowerment members feel by being a part of community. What does empowerment look like? For around 60% of members, it means feeling seen and heard. Why does empowerment matter? Empowered community members ask and answer questions, give advice and support others in the group.
Part of feeling seen and heard is allowing for conflict and negative emotions to surface in a safe environment with clear guidelines.
Rachel Happe aptly states “Done well, healthy online communities are everything social media is not. They are emotionally safe spaces that reduce rather than trigger our anxiety, allowing us to explore and discover new things without the pressure of perfection…” Online community managers are intimately connected to the emotional landscape of online communication. It’s so important to be aware of our own biases and sticking points, preferably before we encounter a challenge to them.
Often, CM’s come from backgrounds where empathy, communication, and cooperation prepped them to do this in their sleep. However, humans are dynamic and ever-evolving, meaning, as long as we can think, we can continue to learn new things. Just as we cannot neglect our analytics and business skill-building, we cannot avoid continuing to build our EQ muscles.
Increasing your emotional intelligence requires the vulnerability to not know, to make mistakes, and to try again. It also requires understanding the power dynamics we are all involved in.
Power dynamics tell us that some voices are shared most often, listened to, and respected. Although the voices we hear both online and off are expanding, the status quo still reigns. Therefore, developing and growing EQ means checking your personal biases and being aware of when your privilege in a given situation could mean someone else is silenced. Whether it is a tendency to cater only to English speaking members, a lack of emphasis on accessibility on your website, or a dominant voice in your community that outshouts the rest, thinking through the power dynamics that impact your community can help you understand how to navigate new people-centered challenges, even if they are new to you personally.
After all this talk about being a continuous EQ learner, you may be wondering what you can do to flex your emotional brain. Here are three ways to increase your EQ this year.
- Practice, practice, and more practice. One of the best ways is just to practice by engaging with others. Being in a community like TheCR provides a space to let your guard down enough to learn.
- Understand where you are now. Taking an EQ test is a simple way to assess where you are now with your emotional intelligence.
- Guided journaling. Personally, I’m working through this quarter’s Community Read and using Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead Workbook to process what comes up for me.
It takes courage to face our flaws, especially around emotional regulation. However, investing in your emotional intelligence is an excellent way to improve your personal relationships while also putting yourself in a position to benefit professionally as well. Whether you consider yourself to have Oprah level EQ or working on developing it for the first time, there is always room to grow. Happy emotional learning.