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Busting (Some) Online Community Leadership Myths! 💣💥

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Busting Some Online Community Leadership Myths

Whether you’ve been part of the community here at Atlassian for months (or a millennium 😉), it’s a sure bet that you’ve come across the term “Community Leader” and possibly wondered what that title means.

If you are an answerer of questions in the Atlassian Community - or if you aspire to be - you are uniquely positioned to join our elite group of volunteer experts who serve as connectors, ambassadors, and mentors, better known as the Community Leaders.

Though our online leaders come from all walks of life, they all have one common passion: helping to make our Atlassian community engaging, fun, and educational. We’ve talked to some current online Community Leaders to help us in busting some common misconceptions about being a leader.

💥 Myth #1: “You have to be an expert in all things Atlassian.”

Truth: Simply put, you don't. You may not know everything Atlassian, but you probably know more than some people know, and that can be really helpful! You don't have to be able to solve complex problems or answer every question to be a community leader. There is always an opportunity to grow or learn something new.

To get you started, here's an article on finding questions to answer, a guide to writing A+ answers, and free training resources from Atlassian University to help you build your skills!

Nikki Zavadska says: “One of the biggest blockers for people from even joining the community and starting thinking about leadership programs is feeling that they need to be experts in Atlassian products. I usually heard worries like "well I need to answer all these questions people have there but I don't think I can do that." But that's not necessarily true.

Answering questions can be hard, yes. It's really time-consuming as well if you want to get your answers accepted. I [used to] spend way too much time looking for the right question that I could answer and many times while I was typing my reply or doing research someone else answered. So yes, getting accepted answers to get to the community program isn't an easy job to do, I can agree with that!”

There are many more things you can do and activities you can join in the community, that don't require “expert status “For example joining different campaigns like Jira July, Atlympics, Appy Hours, and Confluence Love month. Or joining groups like Teamwork Lab where you can talk about productivity, teamwork and so on.


💥 Myth #2: “If I want to become a Community Leader, I have to host events.”

Truth: You don’t! Folks with this official title do many of the things you’re probably already doing, like answering questions, welcoming new members, participating in conversations in groups, and more. The program does include folks who contribute by hosting and presenting at Atlassian Community Events - and many Leaders participate both online and as event hosts - but this is not a requirement to become or remain a Leader. If you want your activity to be strictly online, that’s fine!


💥 Myth #3: “Being a Community Leader is only about answering questions, and answering questions can be a chore.”

Truth: You can moderate a group in the community, write articles, create content that helps other community members, run different activities like Friday Fun, Miscellaneous Monday, and so on. There are many more things to do besides answering questions and running community events - and we’re always looking for new ways to reward you for things you do to celebrate Atlassian and our community.

Brittany Joiner says: “I literally have so much fun doing it, maybe its the challenge of answering a question, pride in myself for knowing alot and wanting to flex that, wondering what all people are doing in the tool and if i'll learn something new myself... i enjoy it. Often times the only reason I don't spend more time doing it because I have higher priorities that come up, but ill often find myself multitasking during a meeting and just checking for questions, or like even part of my morning routine.”

💥 Myth #4: “Because I’m an Atlassian partner, I can’t be a Leader!”

Truth: It is a common misconception that our Partners are not eligible to become Community Leaders – in the past, we did have restrictions around this. But today, we allow Atlassian Partners to also be Community Leaders. These folks are mindful of when they have their “Partner hat” and “Leader hat” on, and they help advocate for the experience of our Partners on community while keeping the user experience at the forefront of their minds. Long story short? Many of our leaders are also Atlassian Partners, so do not let that prevent you from applying!


💥 Myth #5: “If I am a Community Leader, I won’t have time for my other responsibilities. It requires too many hours.”

Truth: Being an online community leader is a commitment, but the time you spend is flexible based on the level of engagement you are comfortable with. There is a point system behind the scenes that gives you credit for various activities - including answering questions, commenting, upvoting, writing articles, in any combination you want. If you’re already active on the community, you might already be hitting these goals.

Nikki Zavadska says: “I was expecting that I would need to be more involved and commit a larger part of my week to the program… But it doesn't feel like I'm being pushed to spend more time or anything like that, which removes a lot of stress. I can't imagine I would be stressing about my work, running a company, free time, family, and on top of that community program. But that being said, I still commit around 5-8 hours every week to community help and activities.”

💥 Myth #6: “Community Leaders are just Atlassian employees.”

Truth: This is one of the myths that comes up regularly. Community Leaders may have close relationships with Atlassian teams and have some “inner circle” benefits, but the fact is that they are NOT Atlassian employees, nor do they have any extra "powers" to act or speak on Atlassian's behalf.

💥 Myth #7: “There are zero benefits in being a Community Leader.”

Truth: Being a Community Leader comes with many benefits, both tangible and ephemeral. As a leader in the online community, you get direct access to the Atlassian team, membership in Leader-only spaces, free certification exams, exclusive swag, a VIP experience at our annual Team conference, and much more.

Brittany Joiner says: “You can make a name for yourself and establish a brand/personality, you get ideas for content if you're into making your own stuff on your blog or youtube, and you make friends (I mean this literally! I have people i've met through the community that I would totally get beers with if I were to be in the same city as them, and we often will join on zooms and goof around/chat about stuff before and after meetings and events!)”

💥 Myth #8: “I have to wait for the perfect time to apply.”

Applying for the Community Leader program is easy, and our number one goal is to help you succeed in becoming a Community Leader! Our typical applicant makes a consistent effort to answer questions, post articles about best practices, and/or start thoughtful discussions in a way that is aligned with our voice and tone, for a minimum of 3 months.

If you don’t quite qualify after that, the application process will help you zero in on exactly what you need to do for a successful application. We can help you improve your question-answering skills, give you benchmarks to hit, or answer any other questions you might have about the program. So you’re wondering if you should submit your application? Truth: Go for it.


Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Dec 05, 2022

Great write up @Saralie S_!

Like Saralie S_ likes this

What a myth buster! I love it 

Like # people like this

I guess I'm the poster-boy for #2 and #4

Never hosted an event, joined a partner 9 years ago, been recognised as a leader-type for a lot longer!  It's why I was asked to join Adaptavist!

Oh, and my wardrobe and records of holidays bust #7 too...

Like # people like this
G subramanyam Community Leader Dec 05, 2022

Many myths are busted and true to the current scenario. Nice and thank you for the post @Saralie S_ 

Like # people like this
Hana Kučerová Community Leader Dec 06, 2022

Great article!

Like Saralie S_ likes this

I believe busting Myth #8 is key, the perfect time to apply is today, not tomorrow, not when you think you're ready.

Like Atlassian once said:

Sven Peters on Twitter: "JUST DO GIT - order your BitBand shirt today #git" / Twitter

Like # people like this
Summer.Hogan Community Leader Dec 06, 2022

Great mythbusting @Saralie S_ ! All true points! 

Like Saralie S_ likes this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Dec 13, 2022

Anyone that has read this far, know that it's a fulfilling experience that you will get more out of than those you are helping. Do it for yourself!

Like Rilwan Ahmed likes this
Sajit Nair Community Leader Dec 21, 2022

wow this needs to be shared more!
amazing post @Saralie S_ 


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