All too often I get asked the question: ‘How do I get more followers on social media?’
It is driven by the idea that somehow more followers equate to a more impressive and influential personal brand. This is far from the truth.
In the 1970s, Robert K Greenleaf founded the servant leadership movement. The idea was first launched as an essay and then transformed into one of the most influential management text’s ever written.
In his Greenleaf’s: “Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” At the very core of the philosophy is the idea that meeting the needs of others is above all the highest priority.
Today, servant leadership is being practised in some of the world’s top-ranking companies who are, by no accident, highly ranked as a result of their leadership style and following. It stands to reason, if this style of leadership is guiding some of the best companies in the right direction, the same philosophy can be applied to an individual looking to build their profile and amplify their personal brand.
Instead of asking the question ‘how do I get more followers?’, the question is replaced with ‘how do I best serve the people I want to connect with?’ All of a sudden, the focus is placed on the intention as opposed to the strategy. And given the fact no single marketing and communication strategy will ever work for every individual, the intention is ultimately more important anyway.
In an ideal world, personal branding is not about seeking fame for the sake of fame itself. It is also not purely a function of making sales. Powerful personal brands are driven by purpose and the individuals behind them are ultimately wanting to serve the people they influence. Whether it is to open their mind, enhance their health and wellness or create new opportunities to allow them to evolve — they put themselves out there with the end-user in mind.
I am not going to suggest those out in the arena have not intentionally chased success and the benefits that have come with that. I am also not going to suggest that they have not wanted to personally gain from their expanded levels of influence.
I am, however, suggesting there is always a purpose that is bigger than themselves, and whether you label that purpose as good or bad is really subjective. I am also certain that Will Smith summed it up perfectly by saying “money and success don’t change people, they just amplify what is already there”.
If and when we approach personal branding with a servant mentality, it is easy to see how the innate fears and insecurities suddenly take a back seat. It is no longer a form of self-promotion, it becomes a form of selfless promotion.
Despite the fact social media is only one avenue to build a personal brand, it’s a relevant one, and if we are going to speak about equality, the playing field is equal. We all have free access to these platforms and we all have the opportunity to use them for good.
We live in a world where a picture of an egg can create a mental health movement, where a 16-year-old with Aspergers can activate climate protests internationally and global thought leaders are able to mobilise like-minded tribes of people globally.
It is not about increasing numbers, it is about connecting with real people and celebrating the privilege to serve them and make a difference in their lives. To serve first.