You probably see it every week. Leaders who undercut their influence by something they’ve posted online. Sometimes they blow it completely through one or two dumb moves. Sometimes you end up thinking I’m not really sure I want to follow them anymore. But you’re not exactly sure why.
Loss of influence can be subtle, but its real. And its so easy to do, if you’re not careful. Because of constant exposure, social media makes influence easier to gain and that much easier to lose.
Almost every ministry leader is on social media today. So is almost everyone they lead. The opportunity to squander your influence is that much higher. Often, we do it without even realizing it. How do leaders undercut their influence on social media? Here are six subtle ways I’ve seen it happen.
1. Portraying a life everyone suspects isn’t real
It’s so tempting to portray a perfectly manicured life. But everyone knows your marriage isnt perfect and that your kids arent really as magnificently brilliant or wonderfully behaved as you let them on to be.
Bragging has become an online staple for many. Whether its kids awesome report cards, your house that can almost look like glossy mag/Pinterest/cable TV, or the selfie you and your spouse took on your date night.
But dig a little deeper and youd discover:
- You tweeted the two A’s, on the report card, but not the C’s.
- The house only really looks showcase when you hold the camera at just the right angle just before sunset and as long as the dog doesn’t photobomb the shot.
- The selfie was taken a half hour after the fight ended.
We’ve all been there. What’s the key to building authentic influence online? It’s being real.
You probably don’t want to disclose every high or every low, but you do want to share a slice of everyday. The truth is most of us are pretty average. And average resonates. People want to know youre real. Because if you are, they can relate to you. Oh, and God has a habit of using ordinary people.
2. Overdisclosing your struggles
So portraying a perfect life underdiscloses your struggles. But does being real mean you should overdisclose them? Not in the least.
When you overdisclose your struggles, you help nobody. When you talk about your long list of problems or whats wrong with the world, you can miss the fact that youre not in a conversation with anyone on those issues. You’re just pulling a dump and run.
These three rules have helped me figure out when to talk about something publicly and when not to. Just because you need to tell someone your struggling doesn’t mean you need to tell everyone youre struggling. Tell a friend, and keep your phone in your pocket.
3. Posting when you’re emotional
Nothing good happens when you’re angry. When you’re emotional, you rarely say things youre proud of later on. So please don’t tell us about it.
Sometimes you see emotional status updates. I dont know about you, but it makes me think the person just wants someone to take the bait and ask what happened or, more sadly, that the person doesn’t have anyone to talk to.
If you start throwing some store that didn’t process your return well, some leader or some other victim of your anger under the bus, it makes us wonder what you’re saying about us when we’re not the room.
If you’re angry, process it. Don’t tweet it. Go to sleep. Wake up the next morning and my guess is your anger will be gone. Your status update won’t be though. Unless of course, you never published it. Much smarter.
4. Playing politics
When ministry leaders jump into partisan politics, they lose influence. I’m Canadian, so I realize I’m likely suspect on all fronts here. But God isn’t a Democrat or a Republican. He’s God.
As a ministry leader, I’m called to lead all people. Even the people I disagree with.
When you play politics online, you squander your influence. So I don’t. We have people who vote in every direction at our church, which I think means were being the church.
5. Say something publicly instead of privately
You’ve seen those status updates:
- Some people are impossible to deal with!
- I wish people would just ...
- I can’t believe that this person…
It’s easier to say it publicly than it is privately, isnt it? Absolutely. For all of us.
But great leadership demands that difficult conversations happen privately, not publicly. Talk to the person youre upset with, not about them. Go direct.
6. Talking only about yourself
Who is your social media about? Is it all about you? Are you talking with others? Showcasing something bigger than yourself? Celebrating others?
We are all narcissists in one form or another, but social media has given us a platform to take self-indulgence and self-absorption to a whole new level. We are in the middle of the rise of the selfie-generation. With it comes a curse: a life devoted to self ultimately leaves us alone.
If you want to leverage influence well, spotlight others, even the people you lead.
A lot of us admire Donald Miller, but one of the things that makes his work so great is that he so often showcases others. He even redesigned his blog to feature many writers. I love that. Don’t make it all about you. Your influence will grow.
How about you? What do you see that undercuts influence?
Reposted with permission. The original article can be found here.
Carey Nieuwhof is founding pastor of Connexus Church and is author of several bestselling books. Carey blogs, podcasts, writes and speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership, change and personal growth.
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