Does thinking yourself as a “business leader” give you a panic attack? It does for me!
As an introverted entrepreneur, it didn’t seem like the term “business leader” fit me when I first started my online business, so I did anything I could to shy away from it.
I used to think the term “leader” only fit the loudest people in the room – the ones who gave brutally honest, cut-throat advice. They were willing to do anything and say anything to make sure they led people in their desired direction. (At least that’s what movies and pop culture taught us.)
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a different definition of what being a successful business leader means.
What if I told you that you are a business leader, right here and right now?
Does that make you beam with pride, make your hands sweat a bit, or cause your eyebrows to raise? No matter what your reaction is, I believe with everything in me that you were made to be a leader.
The way you use influence in your business is leadership.
The way you build your business for massive impact is leadership.
The way you connect with other entrepreneurs is leadership.
When we own that we are business leaders (and not just business owners!), we can start to understand how our business leadership can help us thoughtfully build a brand community.
You don’t need hundreds or thousands of members in your brand community before it can be considered a “community”. Think about the connections you’ve made in your business: clients, people you met at networking events, customer leads, social media followers, email subscribers.
All of these connections have an opportunity to become a part of your brand community!
So how do you go about becoming the entrepreneurial leader that your brand community needs?
These three key principles of successful business leadership will change the way you build your brand community. I guarantee it! Let’s start with a surprising tip…
Don’t be afraid of the spotlight as a business leader
That probably doesn’t sound like what you thought I’d say, huh? It may seem surprising, but it’s so true. Even as an introverted entrepreneur, I’ve learned just how important it is to be willing to step into the spotlight at times.
In the past, I used to run away from the spotlight. It felt odd to have people looking at me for answers or to have it “all figured out”, so I did whatever I could to not attract unneeded attention. While it allowed me to fly under the radar for a while, it became harder to become a business leader when I was afraid to put myself out there.
Can you relate? Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar place, always trying to deflect attention away from you in order to not feel like you have to live up to people’s expectations (whether they are true or perceived).
As women, we’re taught to be quiet and meek, to not draw too much attention to ourselves because we should be “good girls”. The problem with this is that we become afraid to step outside of our comfort zones when it’s time to own the spotlight as business leaders.
What helped me become more comfortable with the spotlight was becoming more comfortable with my message. I began sharing a deeper look into what it was like to be a single mom and full-time entrepreneur while I was a wedding photographer.
This helped me build even more confidence to share one of my hardest stories: what it’s like to run a business and manage my autoimmune disorders.
Before sharing my stories, I knew that I would have to be okay with stepping into the spotlight for a moment, but by me doing so, I was able to bring a sigh of relief and connect with so many entrepreneurs. It made it totally worth it.
Now, I’m not saying to hog the spotlight. (We all know a few too many entrepreneurs who do that…) Instead, I mean that you should build confidence in owning your time in the spotlight.
Before you step into the spotlight as a business leader, ask yourself:
- What is it that I want people to gain from our conversation or my speech?
- What do I want to be known for and remembered for?
- How can I use my time in the spotlight to impact others?
- What else am I raising awareness for or educating people about?
When you know what you stand for, what you are willing to share, and what you want your time in the spotlight to produce, you are able to stay rooted in who you are. This is what it looks like to be a healthy business leader!
Define what your spotlight is as a business leader
Since you are building your own brand community, you can decide what the spotlight will look like. I recommend playing to strengths and what you are comfortable with as early on in the brand community building process as possible.
For me, I love having emotional connections with other people and having transparent conversations about business, health, motherhood, and life. Some other entrepreneurs may share the same passion for these topics as I do, but the application of how we integrate them into our businesses may look completely different depending on our strengths.
Because of the unpredictability of my health and my desire to keep my schedule flexible for my son, I intentionally speak at more virtual events and record more Instagram or Facebook Lives (like I do every week inside of our Facebook group!) than travelling across the globe to speak.
Although I loved speaking at Alt Summit in March about Pinterest marketing (seriously, it was such a highlight of my career), I like to stay within the comfort of my own home most of the time. What’s better than teaching other creatives and entrepreneurs while I look dressy on top and wear yoga pants on the bottom? Best of both worlds!
What are your strengths as a business leader? Do you enjoy teaching and educating others? If so, do you like to do it in a private or group setting? Maybe you’d rather tell stories and help others craft their own. No matter what talents you have, you can use them to inform how you want to build your brand community.
We’ve talked a lot about how to keep your own strengths in mind when deciding what your spotlight will look like, but take a moment to consider what your brand community’s needs are.
- How do they like to learn or consume information?
- What are they looking to gain from your content?
- How do they like to connect with you and others in the brand community?
- What makes their brand community participation a success?
Once your strengths collide with their needs, you’ll find a spotlight that feels comfortable for everyone. Let’s keep going with the third tip.
Lead your brand community with vulnerability
Vulnerability happens when one person is brave enough to stand up and share something that could open themselves up to emotional harm. It happens every time we share a personal story, although vulnerability has differing levels depending on the type of story that is being shared.
When we honor someone’s vulnerability, we honor the deepest part of who they are. When that happens, we can effectively and purposefully lead by example. Brand communities need more vulnerability, but more than that, they need more vulnerable business leaders.
Have you ever noticed that some successful and powerful business leaders don’t like to show their weaknesses? It’s too bad because those weaknesses are actually what make us human. If you think other business owners haven’t made similar mistakes and missteps, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
The difficulty is that so many entrepreneurs would rather look like “perfect experts” rather than share vulnerable stories with their audience. This leads to people thinking that business leaders are people who have it “all figured out” when that is not true at all.
I don’t like being involved in brand communities where vulnerability isn’t present. It takes the human aspect of connection completely out of the picture. And where’s the joy in that?
I challenge you to share a part of your story with your brand community. You don’t have to share the deepest, darkest part of your story for all to see, but you can share a layer of a story that has made you who you are. You’ll be surprised to see how many people can resonate with it.
Invite people into the struggles and allow them to see that you are a human who is stumbling just like they are. It will deeply connect you with your people.
(Psst, if you’re looking to learn more about vulnerability, I highly recommend listening to Brene Brown’s TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability and reading her books. Her book, Dare to Lead, is so relevant!)
No one can recreate your story, making it one of the best and most authentic ways to position yourself as a business leader. Whether you decide to share it through a blog post, an Instagram story video, or talk about it on a podcast, you can positively affect other people with the words you share.
What is one way you can become comfortable with the spotlight as a business leader or lead your brand community with vulnerability this week? Tell us in the comment section below! We’re cheering you on!!