The Social Leader
When Charlene Li published Open Leadership my friends and I groaned. We wished we had written the book. Charlene masterfully helped us peer into the influence of social technology and the transformative reaches its having on business and leadership.
Since Open Leadership, the roots of social technology have only grown stronger. Some research shows that social has improved productivity 30% and helped boost new customers by 18%. And power house McKinsey reports that 90% of companies who use social technologies are seeing business benefits.
The numbers will only strengthen. So, this points to a big ‘ol elephant in the room.
What about the leaders who refuse to acknowledge social technologies importance to business strategy, sales and operations?
The longer these leaders hold back from adopting social, they increasingly cripple their ability to create value for customers. Furthermore, they blindly overlook the power social has to unite a fatigued, disillusioned workforce.
Letting human nature school them in the art of building relationships, social leaders are learning new ways to adapt how they succeed in a networked society. What follows are but a few of many leadership actions of the social leader.
Moves fluidly in virtual and physical interactions
Despite preferences, the way we can work and interact has catapulted outside the cubicle walls and the office building. Social leaders can ping their local and global networks for information, to spread the word – think marketing – even spread goodwill. Social leaders are adept or willing to become so at slipping into virtual and physical interactions. The quality of relationships can be the same no matter the reality – online or in person. This takes practice. It requires a willingness to be outside one’s comfort zone and master the differences in etiquettes for both types of interactions.
Connects people with common interests, goals
Social technology has features built into it that amplify basic human needs: to contribute, be recognized, be part of something important, work hard, even have fun.
Social leaders set aside time to connect people in their networks to others where synergies might occur. Or simply when there is a need. Why? It creates efficiencies. It increases likelihood of success. It demonstrates value. It shows relevance.
Increased comfort with global business practices
Before the Olympics started, Americans were aghast that our athletes’ uniforms were made in China. They were designed by Ralph Lauren in the U.S.
It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. We live in a global society. Cost savings and shortened timeliness are to be gained when the world is the office. Talent is not found solely in one’s country. Talent is global. Social leaders rise above the fray and seek to expand their network and grow their business by navigating the global business opportunities. And yes, understanding the downsides, too.
Social technology is portable. It’s efficient. And in many cases it’s enjoyable. These are invaluable business inputs available to savvy leaders who want to motivate and retain staff needed to create value for customers.
Today’s social leaders aren’t enamored only by the novelty of Instagram or Pintrest. They see the powerful ways these technologies, and others, can bring people together and make work more efficient or elucidate customer insights not easily obtained previously.
I end, however, with a warning: avoid growing your social leadership at risk of becoming irrelevant. It’s not just the technology. It’s also the lessons and insights about new ways of working and what motivates us that social technologies reveal. To miss that is to miss a major shift in leading in the 21st century.
Photo by Ron Meiners