Saturday, October 13

Recognizing Leadership: Social Media

The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization. — Fred Fiedler and Martin Chemers

All across the net — in forums, social networks, fan bases, and even well-read blogs — some people are elevated up by any number of measures and any number of reasons to become perceived leaders in their respective communities or industries.

And yet, unfortunately, when the concept of being a leader arises, whether sought after or rejected on its face, few realize it is not leaders that these varied communities and industries crave. It is leadership.

In June, a few fans, in consideration of my suggestions to promote fandom asked me how to organize a fan club. I obliged them, but was surprised by the response of some, who rejected the idea on its face because Jericho fans did not want any leaders. Off with any leaders’ heads, some said, we are all equal here.

What was missed is that I was not advocating for leaders as they defined the term as much as I was advocating leadership. The two are vastly different.

Leadership is not defined by power, privilege, rank, title, position, or authority. Leadership is a quality of action, one that rarely requires force of law, threat, manipulation, control, or the attempted shutdown of dissent. On the contrary, leaders welcome all parties, all views, and then effectively match those to organizational goals and not necessarily their opinions or preferences.

A successful leader transcends their personality in order to ensure any following is aligned to the organizational goals and not themselves as individuals. The very best of them continually challenge any followers to reach higher obtainable goals, encouraging them to apply leadership as well.

In social media, some bloggers, social network participants, forum administrators, group hosts, and even online talk show hosts become leaders either by pursuit of action, grant of title, or by default simply because others recognize them for their insights and expertise. Yet, relatively few recognize the role they have assumed or accept the responsibility of it. Fewer still have ever been exposed to the difference between leaders and those who think they are leaders.

You can tell which are which. Effective leadership looks for objectivity and truth, taking responsibility for their actions and win the hearts of any following. Whereas those who think they are leaders are subjective, obscure facts, and promote their own partisan interests and make demands while denying the role for fear of being held responsible or accountable. Sometimes, they attempt to force others to succumb to their will because of any number of erroneous qualifications: experience, seniority, title, rank, traffic, followers, friends, links, etc.

Leadership requires none of these things. Rather, it revolves around vision, motivation, inspiration, empowerment, and authenticity. And very likely, but not certainly, it seems to me that Jericho fans are well overdue to find those few who are capable.

If not, the craving for leadership will continually lead toward elevating those who are popular and not necessarily those who have the skill sets necessary. The results can be disastrous, as they have been for the last two weeks.

You see, there is a vast difference between those who start something, provide a forum to talk about something, and those who lead something. Last week, someone responded to me and said he did not want to be a leader. It reminded me of an episode in Jericho, when Gray Anderson was ready, once again, to relinquish authority to Johnston Green. Green basically told him to accept the responsibility or stand aside.

The lesson was as clear in the show as it is for fans today. As I opened, the quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, will determine the success or failure of a third season. Good night and good luck.



Anonymous said...


Thank you for your arcticle on leadership. I have felt that leadership has been lacking on the CBS boards since the campaign. I have seen many initiatives proposed but never followed up on for the lack of leadership. I find it frustrating and I am at a loss for what to do.

Rich on 10/13/07, 2:59 PM said...

More words:

While writing this, I received a rather unfriendly e-mail from a Jericho fan who told me that they were going to take me to task because I said disappointed in something they wrote and left a comment to that effect, which they chose to publish. In the e-mail, they told me they would publish this post unless I clarified my position.

I will not be subjected to threats or blackmail.

After reading the advanced copy of the post they sent me, I e-mailed them back, saying that I was even more disappointed and, at my first opportunity, I would respond to the post once it is up.

To me, there are no "sides" as so carefully outlined to me in this e-mail. They are only fans. I am equally disposed to note positive as well as negative actions as I have done since the beginning. I can only hope that this action is isolated to one individual.

Feel free to disagree with me. Some folks often do; I do not fault anyone for it. But please do not waste your time attempting to threaten me. Make your post and I will respond when you can. I can only assume you will be publishing exactly what was in the e-mail. If not, I am likely too.


Rich on 10/13/07, 3:07 PM said...

Hey Ichthus,

Thank you so very much. I really appreciate it.

I do believe that Jericho fans have several people who are qualified to lead. So I understand your frustration.

Jericho fans have a long history of not trusting eachother when it comes to leadership (not you, per se, but in general). With leadership, I am very concernd for the fans given the amount of effort put forth. The good news, is there are a lot of good ideas so, in the interim, I might suggest...

Look for the very best ideas, even if it is simple like wearing a Jericho shirt when you go to the store, and then if anything happens, post about your success. I can only imagine if everyone shared what is working for them then others might be inclined to do the same.

Keep the faith! :)


Sweet Tea on 10/13/07, 3:19 PM said...

"Whereas those who think they are leaders are subjective, obscure facts, and promote their own partisan interests and make demands while denying the role for fear of being held responsible or accountable."
Isn't that the truth?
I'm sorry to hear about the unfriendly email.I recently got a threatening email myself but there was no blackmail. Yet.
Sides? Yes. Those who wish to lead have the belief in sides. If you aren't on theirs watch out for the threats.
Great article, Rich.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich for yet another well needed article.

You are right in saying there are those within the fanbase who would be able to lead however there are also those who want to lead but don't have the necessary skills.

Most people feel if someone is highly visible this automatically makes them a leader. However the truth is often quite different. The quietest can often be much more effective leaders as they allow those around them to grown with support rather than constant direction.

One of my favourite leadership quotes is from George S. Patton, "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results."

People don't always need or want specific instructions on what they need to do, they need guidance, support and motivation to reassure them the postiive actions they are taking are the right ones.

Thanks again for your article.

Morgan5318 on 10/13/07, 3:59 PM said...

Thank you for your wisdom, Rich. As usual, you cut through the many external and extraneous layers to the very heart of the matter. Your words were thought provoking to say the least. You certainly made me sit back and question my own motives, and I'm not certain I liked all my answers.

There is a vast difference between those who CAN lead and those who WANT to lead. Often, those who seek leadership are the very ones who should not have it in any way, shape or form. In most cases, a leader emerges naturally, and can usually be recognized by deeds not words. In other words, leaders not only talk the talk, they walk the walk.

As I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing, I've been a veteran of many different fandoms. I'd like to think I know what I'm doing, just as I'd like to believe I'm doing it for the right reasons. I want to know what I'm doing is for the overall good, not for glory, self-aggrandizement or self-promotion. I'm grateful for this blog, since it will help me figure this out.

I'm sorry you got negative email, Rich. It's always disappointing when that happens. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

This is Nightbird. Google still claims my password is wrong.

I'm sorry you got the email but your a bigger man than the one who emailed and it is important that you have make this clear. Everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath and remember that words are just that and have the power you give them.

We have a great variety of points of view in our fandom, and as such many ideas about leadership. There are those who like to be the big fish and those who want to take out the big fish. What the rest need to do is listen and take it for what it means...egos. We need to be fixed on our goal and not on who did/does what. The monster worked because suggestions coming from experience were posted and the rest was left to individuals. Each one of us is capable of doing something to help and was and will be a part of the whole.
We need to remain positive and the best way is to post your successes and encourage everyone to share theirs, and to ignore those who are out to cause problems. Skills and leadership will come if everyone is willing to allow it to surface.


LisiBee on 10/13/07, 4:20 PM said...

Excellent advice as always, Rich. Thank you so much for continuing to share your expertise and experience with us, it is very much appreciated.

Rich on 10/13/07, 4:24 PM said...

Thanks Jane, Choco, and Morgan,

Thanks all for your insightful additions.

Choco, If anyone can make the case that some leaders are born (which is mostly not true), it would be Patton. You included one of my two favorite quotes from him. The other is "lead, follow, or get out of the way."

Morgan, I have never know you to be anything but effective in all that you do. I see you raise people up all the time. Even me, recently with your chat invite. :)

As for the e-mail, I get negative e-mails all the time. This one was different in that I take a position more than I had for fear of consequence. Mostly, I mentioned it today so no one is surprised when they get around to publishing it. It's all good.


Rich on 10/13/07, 4:29 PM said...

Thanks Lisibee and Nightbird. Thanks for coming by.


There are no big fish when it comes to leadership. Effective leaders recognize that both the minister and the window washer are responsible for a great service. Leadership demands that while we might all have different roles, those roles are still equal and necessary.

Please do! Remain positive, honest, and authentic as that is always the remedy.

All my best,

Debby on 10/13/07, 4:39 PM said...

Rich, One thing that our society has tended to do lately is to build someone up just to tear them down. That has happened in this campaign also. With that type of treatment I am not surprised that people with true leadership skills are laying low. Why put yourself through the pains of leadership to be smeared. I wish people would realize that leadership is not a popularity contest. I also wish they would realize that the people being torn down are human beings not just screen names. Until we are Rangers return to themes early in our campaign or respect we lose whether or not the show makes season 3. I hope Rangers read your column and wake up and behave as Johnston Green did not Gray Anderson. Thanks for continuing to care even when treated ill.

Debby on 10/13/07, 4:40 PM said...

Balceroregontr is me, Debby from SC

Rich on 10/13/07, 4:46 PM said...

Hey Debbie,

You are right about that. I've watched a great many people with great leadership skills either take a back seat or disappear completely over the difference of ideas or whatever.

I also why some of them were, but it doesn't matter. Suffice to say, not all were deserving of that treatment. Hopefully, moving forward, the next phase of leadership will be given the opportunity to succeed or fail on merit and not simply because so and so likes so and so.

Thanks so much for such a pointed contribution.

All my best,

Unknown on 10/13/07, 4:53 PM said...

Thank you for such a thought provoking article. Your objectivity is a breath of fresh air to Jericho fans, well- this fan anyway.

Thank you for giving us all a lot to think about tonight.

Thank you for the inspiration you gave us with your chat event this week also. You inspired many and it was a lot of fun to boot.

Teresa Rothaar on 10/13/07, 5:04 PM said...


Cockroaches scatter the moment a light is turned on. By telling your emailer, "Go right ahead and publish it; I don't care," you shined a beam right on him. He was hoping you would fear publication. By demonstrating that you do not, it took away any power he thought the "threat" had.

I would have done the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Nightbird here again.

By "big fish" I was thinking of those who like to call themselves leaders but who aren't. Its the glory not the job. Unfortunately too often in our ten seconds of fame society they get the notice.

I agree fully that we need real leaders who may not know everything but welcome those who do and those who will do. Not every talent or skill is equal but everyone has a talent or skill. Some are more important in a given situation than others and yet all of them matter.

I'm trying to say positive things and if people want to listen, good, but I'm going to keep on having my say because we need everyone to stress the positive. The more we believe things can happen, the better the chance they will.


kystorms on 10/13/07, 5:59 PM said...

I know what it is like to get email's of unfriendly nature, as well as the email that is totally off base. I wish you luck in settling this with the person.
I did want to point one thing out about the leadership issue and the fans, and this is just my opinion.
The sad fact is, the idea of leaders polarized early on, one side wanting, and one side not. Its just the truth, but we all have to say that there is now an obvious need for the fans to have goals which they can implement to get the job done, and this is going to take leadership. I feel * and this is just my very humble opinion here * that finding the leadership who can account for every ones feelings is going to be very hard.
That being said, I too agree... the fans seem to want leadership of some kind. I personally do not, but will not publicly fight this, as it seems that this is the wish of the fans and that is the most important thing to me, what the fans wish for. I just hope we can get together enough to do what is best for the Fans of Jericho, and Jericho itself.
We have so little time, and so little to work with as far as promotion from CBS itself.

Sweet Tea on 10/13/07, 6:14 PM said...

"that finding the leadership who can account for every ones feelings is going to be very hard."
I agree with kystorms that this would be difficult. It's also true that some fans want a leader while others do not. That would be fine but not all fans necessarily want the same leader. It would also be fine if a certain group wanted a leader and that leader reminded them that there are some who do not wish to be led and to respect those people too. When a particular leader has no leadership skills then they can do far more damage than good.

Debby on 10/13/07, 6:15 PM said...

I think itis important for people to understand that leadership does not mean being "the boss". It means definig vision and motivating. It is hard work.
Debby from SC

Rich on 10/13/07, 6:24 PM said...

My apologies for not commenting individually, but I would like to add something for the time being.

Leadership is never easy, but all people have a great capacity to move toward it if they choose too. And sometimes people don't recognize when, despite any official title, Lisa, that they are acting in a leadership role. Like it or not. Claim you are not for it, but the simple fact remains you have acted as one.

There is another great capacity people have; they have a great capacity for forgiveness.

I received an apology from the person who sent me the e-mail. I have accepted and forgiven it.

All my best,

Hawksdomain on 10/13/07, 6:55 PM said...


Wonderful article. I will admit that I was one who was not in favor of a 'leader' as it was being pushed for so many times throughout the Save Jericho campaign, and as well through the several months that followed.

In August I started a website and a campaign with a goal of bringing more attention to the show we all worked so hard to save, while also providing help to our men and women in the military.

By doing this, I thrust myself into a 'leadership' role, where I truly did not want to be. I still feel very passionate about doing things to help the troops, and I believe that I will succeed with this goal in any direction I choose to go.

With everyone I have worked with on this troops project, I have stressed that I am only a webmaster, I am not the ideas person or even the one who makes any idea successful. If it were not for everyone participating, none of the ideas we have worked on would have been successful.

With all of the drama that has been occurring within this fandom for nearly a month now, I have chosen to no longer participate. Too many things have been said by people. Before I begin to get emails myself, I do want to clarify that these things have been said by all members who are perhaps "too active" (this does include myself until this week when I left the fandom). You mentioned an email (and I am very sorry for the threats made against you) speaking of sides. Although there should be no sides in a fandom, and I personally do not believe that there are sides, because everyone wants the same results, there are definitely conflicting cliques within this fandom.

It is these conflicting cliques that will be the death of anything positive that could come from the Jericho fandom. Even when things are not meant on a personal level, they are interpreted personally. Many feelings have been hurt. Blackmail is a word I have heard too many times while being involved with the battling cliques, and I am very sad to hear that anyone has threatened you in this way. From what I have seen, you have always tried to remain neutral in regards to these cliques.

What can be done to stop the conflict and negativity? I do not know. I do know that I tried several times to get away from the negativity before succeeding. I also know that I have not felt so peaceful since before the cancellation in May. I think that others are in the same place I was in. I allowed Jericho and the fandom to become too much a part of my life. Things said, even if not directed at me, were hurtful and it weighed heavily on my heart and soul. It caused me to become a person I did not know, and did not want to know. The answer for me was to withdraw.

For the sake of Jericho, I sincerely hope those who are still involved in all of this can find a way to stop the negativity and the conflict. I now believe that a leader, a truly neutral leader in regards to these cliques, is the only thing that can bring forth any healing.

I wish all Jericho Rangers great luck in their quest for season 3. I wish all involved in the negativity within the cliques peace.

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” - Peace Pilgrim

Anonymous said...

Nicely said Rich. As always you eloquently deliver a strong dose of reality to an otherwise absurd world.

Maybe someday we can all go back to having fun with this.

Because that is for many of us what Jericho was - fun, an amusing way to pass a few hours each day/week to give us a break from the real world. It's why some of us chose to fight so hard to save the show. So that little bit of fun would remain in our lives as well as the great community that had been build around it.

It was never, and should never, be about who gets to be king of the castle.


Teresa Rothaar on 10/13/07, 9:08 PM said...

I'm glad to hear that you and the emailer settled things between yourselves. Perhaps that person said something in a moment of anger that they regretted later; anyone can do that.

I don't think the Save Jericho campaign needs *A* leader as much as it needs a number of individuals to take the lead on individual projects. I think this is what you are getting at as well.

Many Jericho fans have been directing ugliness toward other fans that SHOULD be directed at the real enemy, CBS. Many eBay sellers do the same thing, and this is why I pulled away from their message boards.

Rich on 10/13/07, 9:37 PM said...

Right as rain Teresa. Not a leader, leadership. :)

And as Schumi said ... fun! Thanks Schumi.

No fan, imo, needs to feel run off by other fans. With so many groups of fans, it should be easy enough to find everyone the right home. You cannot afford to lose people like Hawksdomain. I've seen the work. Good idea and good stuff.

And Open, my fingers still hurt from keeping up with you all in the chat session. Thanks so much for being there.

All my best,

Anonymous said...

I am Scifiaddict in case my name doesn't appear above

I have often served a leadership role for the Jem group in the fandom. For a while I was the lone Jemmer on the CBS character board so I treid to rep resent those fans as best I could. Over the past several months I have represented that group in other ways. In my case I treid to consult with those I represented as much as possilble and to try and do what I thought would satisfy as many as possible. There may be some who were disapointed but I know you can't please everybody and so far I have never recieved complaints over things I have done from my side.

That said I think one of the problems we have is that there are some supposed leader's who favor their personal veiw point and their freinds.

Greg Cooper on 10/14/07, 5:16 PM said...

Rich....another wonderful piece. It's great to read someone recognizing the many different facets surrounding the Jericho series. BTW it's also a privilege to have you linked on my site. I've gotten some great comments on Copywrite because you allowed me to link your page (today several of the local media were jumping to you from my page).

All the best

maybei on 10/14/07, 9:38 PM said...

Great article - Thanks!!!! Funny thing, I always knew who my leader was and was not in regards to Jericho.

A lot of great people in the Jericho "fandom" - some are personalities, some are leaders. Good to know the difference.

Unknown on 10/14/07, 10:40 PM said...

After having time to reflect, I will add my comments to my thanks.

It is not necessary for all fans to agree for all fans to succeed.

What I mean by this- My husband and I rarely agree on anything. However, what we do agree on are the core values we have built our family upon. We may not agree on the finer points, but compromise can always be reached, or one partner can defer to the other because the goal is the same.

Anyone who has worked in a large company knows that one does not always like his or her co-workers. However, during business hours, a job still must be done.

I feel there needs to be some sort of "separation of church and state" in the Jericho fan base. Meaning the job given the fans by CBS- to grow the viewership of Jericho needs to separate from any social connections formed within various segments of the fan base.

Don't get me wrong, making friends in the Jericho fan base is a good thing. There needs to be a variety of sites so that fans who want to communicate using online social media can find the right place for them.

But this is what is really important:

CBS will announce air dates (eventually) and we will spread those air dates like wildfire though the internet and through the streets.

Rich on 10/15/07, 1:40 PM said...

Thanks for all your comments. Some very great insights.

Scifiaddict, I think your addition speaks volumes about how well Jericho fans have it; and how fortunate Jemmers are to have you. :)

Greg, thank you, though I really think it is the other way around as well. I'm lucky to have you! :) Maybei too.

Yes Open, exactly that. Besides, the greatest gift you can give to a friend is not always agreeing them (right, wrong, or indifferent). A real friend will respect you for your differences as well as your similarities.

All my best,


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