Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Social Leader

Are you a social leader? 

We don’t mean someone that walks around the office talking, socializing, and being off task. We are also not referring to the social butterfly that likes to gossip, talk about others, or have the latest 'intel'. A social leader is someone who knows they don’t work alone, that relationships matter, and that 'social work' will always trump isolated star performance in the long run. These are characteristics of the social leader - and there are benefits to be one! 

Before we jump into more about being a social leader, let's not confuse social media with social leadership. Social media can be a tool for our social leadership but you don’t have to tweet, update on Facebook, contribute to Google+, build a LinkedIn page to be a social leader. In many ways social leadership works best in person (yes, face to face like the 'good ole days') and social media may be used as a tool to avoid authentic social settings. 

Many of us have probably been at a conference lately and when you look around you see about half the audience on their tablets, smart phones, and notebooks. Some of them actively tweeting and updating their 'social pages'. However, if you engage in only that type of social interaction, that is closer to being a broadcaster vs. the social entrepreneur. Those people are more in tune with the screens in front of them than the speaker or the person sitting beside them. Sometimes it seems we screen out social interaction with a stronger connection to our screens than to the people in the room. Social leadership in the workplace is less about tools and more about people and our connection to others. The medium here is not the only message; the greater message is that we are working with and through connection.

The conventional definition of leadership or management is getting work done through people - assigning and appointing tasks. Today management and leadership is getting work done with people and developing people through work - better known as empowerment. There is a big difference. Empowerment is spending the necessary time with the 'right' individuals and then teaching, leading, and engaging them to learn how to complete a task at a high level. It is the delegation with the necessary follow up for learning to occur. When we spend 'time with' the people that we should be connecting with...guess what? We actually CONNECT.  

As a leader, you may be on your own in some of your work but you are never alone. That's kind of contradicting? Yes but not really. The questions lies here - are you prepared, motivated, and skilled to give the best and get the best out of work by being one of the new social leaders as we move towards a more connected vision of work? Because if you are...finish reading our blog and go connect with someone face to face - that's where the really work get's done!

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