So there I was, minding my own business and checking through some feeds that I follow, when I found it. An article that really hit at some of the things I have been learning and combining concepts with some of the things I believe. This article, by Rawn Shah of Forbes.com, took a look at the impact of social media on the traditional forms of leadership. Shah’s point, and it’s a great one, is that social media is a game changer. It allows leadership to emerge regardless of place within an organization. It lets someone who is miles away from a key to the executive bathroom speak with authority and influence. In some cases, these new leaders can become as influential over their corner of the world as the titular head of the company.
What to do? I mean, if you are running a business, you would like to think that you are, after all, actually running the place, wouldn’t you? Here’s the good news – you can get out in front of this. You can get out in front of your organization. And you can do it without the drain of initiative and drive that typically follows the clumsy assertion of authority. How? Easy. Get involved. Find the location of the discussion – be it Twitter, email, newsletter, whatever (I didn’t forget Facebook, it’s just not everyone wants to be Friends with the boss…) – and take part. Don’t take over, be part of the discussion. This, in my opinion, doesn’t erode your position as a leader; it enhances it. After all, you can discuss, participate, listen without necessarily taking the organization off track. No one said that you had to read a blog or Twitter stream and tear up your mission statement. There are days you may want to, but that’s a different subject altogether… At worst, you learn where pressure points are and who/what are their causes. At best, a small kernel of an idea that would never have seen the light of day leaps off your Blackberry and proves to be the next iPad or cure for cancer. And in the middle lies the more likely outcome – engagement at all levels.
In the article, two executives provided a pretty good definition of command: “Establish command, not control.” Or as Shah amplifies, “Command means influential and inspirational leadership, as opposed to the simple exercise of power.” I like that definition. Perhaps even enough to blog about it another day.
Nice job Rawn Shah – you nailed it.