To Blog Is To Lead

A few weeks ago, I shared 50 blogging lessons to help out those who are new.  It sparked quite a few discussions external of this blog – and one particularly interesting thread by book review blogger Jackie Bailey.

The original lesson on leading was as follows:

12.  If you’re not a leader, don’t even bother.  Your writing will show it.  The best bloggers are natural leaders and exude confidence.  You have to be if you hope to stand out in a world of infinite choice.  It’s basic sociology, why else would anyone listen to you?

Let’s look at Jackie’s reaction to this:

Forgive me for this generalisation, but I don’t have an image of bloggers as leaders. I picture the average blogger as someone who enjoys their own company, with no desire to lead anyone.

Jackie is right – the average blogger may not have a desire to lead anyone.  And due to this, their content will remain in perpetual obscurity and they will never find the path of rapid growth.  Think of the most popular writers or bloggers in your niche of choice – they are at the top due to the fact that their thoughts are worth following.  In many cases, their leadership ability can actually trump their content.  People stick around because they are being lead down a desirable path and trust what is coming next.

She goes on to say:

I would describe myself as quiet and thoughtful, not a natural leader – saying that, I do end up leading lots of things, but this is more due to the fact that no one else will volunteer, rather than any aching desire to run things!

In essence, Jackie is finding that blogging is bringing out her inner ability and motivation to lead.  What an amazingly great thing.  To create content is to lead and be an influential force.  In this case, Jackie is leading some incredibly interesting conversations about books.  Consider that most who read books never go as far as to publish a thing about them, instead counting on people like Jackie to help guide their decisions on what to read next.

Bloggers as a group are confident and elicit the qualities of leaders.  Consider some stats from the 2009 year’s state of the blogosphere that apply to leadership:

  • Bloggers do agree their medium is ascendant and 69% agree that blogs are getting taken more seriously as information sources.  This implies that bloggers see the medium as a leadership platform.
  • 70% of bloggers say that they are better known in their industry because of their blog.  In other words:  bloggers are actively trying to be leaders in their industry.
  • 15% say that they have more executive visibility within their company as a result of blogging.  So at least some bloggers are successful at reaching leaders organizationally.
  • 15% say they are paid to give speeches on the topics they blog about.  This is a huge leadership opportunity afforded by blogging.
  • 56% say that their blog has helped their company establish a positioning as a thought leader within the industry.  So brands themselves are achieving success at establishing leadership at the company level in addition to the personal level.

This data backs up that many are using blogging as part of their leadership strategy.  In fact, I would argue the act of creating content for groups of people with a common interest is  leading them.

What did other bloggers have to say in response to Jackie’s question:  do you think leaders make better bloggers?

Meagan says:

I would have to disagree that you need to be a leader to be a blogger. I do think it helps, though. I’m very much a follower and a quiet one at that, and I can tell which bloggers are leaders, or at least are more so than me. They’re always organizing events, challenges, and so on. I assume no one would really want to participate in anything I put forward (which I know is silly) so I don’t bother. I don’t necessarily think it’s my writing that suffers, but it’s more of a community involvement thing. I’m happy to be involved in the community but I know I’ll never take a leadership role in it.

Sandy says:

That is an interesting question. Most of my life, I led something…groups, departments, teams, etc. When I quit working, I swore I didn’t want to lead another damn thing in my life. I wanted to rest, and follow quietly. It didn’t really work out that way though. Do I think it makes any difference in the blogging world? I don’t think so. I’ve met people who are this close to being a hermit, but when they start talking about a topic that is their passion, they have all kinds of confidence and they inspire. Some of the best writers never came out of their caves. So why would it be any different with bloggers? In fact, blogging (the act of sitting at a computer and communicating) lends itself to introverted people being able to do their thing without face-to-face interaction. There are alot of leaders out there that can’t sit still long enough to string three sentences together. They would just make their assistant do it!

Trish says:

Someone else pointed out that the article was specifically talking about professional bloggers/industry bloggers. However, I think the points made could certainly be applied to book bloggers.

As far as being a leader…well, I wouldn’t say you *have* to be a leader to be a blogger. But it all depends on what your goals are for your blog. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a leader. But do I jump in if no one else is volunteering? Yes. Would I rather sit back and let someone else do it? Absolutely!

It’s hard to say what’s most important. What makes various bloggers successful (and here’s I’m thinking of bloggers like Dooce, PioneerWoman, Pro Blogger, Seth Godin, etc) varies depending on what they’re providing. But they all provide *something* that people connect with. If you’re providing people something they can connect with, then I think you’ll be successful. You might not get millions of readers, but you *will* get people who look forward to what you have to say. To me, that’s when you’ve succeeded.

What do you think?  Is leadership a required skill to be a successful blogger?

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