Think about two things: time and emotional energy. You can buy my time: by the hour, by the day or, if you can afford it, for a discounted price called an annual salary. But you can’t buy my emotional energy. Emotional energy is passion, creativity, ideas, community, engagement. Emotional energy is not bought, it’s invested on a foundation of trust and respect. Organisations need to be able to engage with people at an emotional level in order to attract and retain the best talent, because it’s only the very best talent that lets them be agile, and only agile organisations can innovate and foster the creativity they need to survive.
For the Social Age, we need Social Leaders.
Social Leaders are highly socially literate: they understand the lifecycle of communities and social learning spaces and have an ability to build and maintain strong networks. They both draw upon the expertise of these networks but also actively bank goodwill by sharing and informing. Social Leaders are generous with their time and expertise.
As well as being socially literate, they are business literate, with a strong reputation around return on investment. They can have data driven discussions and understand how to manage and inspire stakeholders. Social Leaders, in other words, sit in both camps: they are both organisation and individual. They can speak the language of business, but they can translate it into the semi formal social layers that surround it.
Social Leaders can apply good filters: although the technology lets us be connected everywhere, all the time, they are able to separate ‘pub time’ from ‘work time’ in their interactions with colleagues and able to filter as appropriate.
Social Leaders use their high social capital to develop that of others: they demonstrate humility and gain their authority through reputation, not through position, longevity or formal titles. They are agile learners, able to put ideas aside and remain relevant over time.
Social Leaders may emerge, may be recruited, or may be grown, but only if the environment is right, because they share that other social trait: they are portable. Organisations can’t control conversations by owning the spaces that they take place in: if you don’t want me talking about something in the office, i’ll do it in the pub or on Facebook instead. If you don’t curate a conducive environment for me to engage with, a place where my emotional energy can be safely invested, then that’s ok, because i’ll just invest it elsewhere.
Which will leave you with my time and, as we know, my time is not enough.
We need to look at Social Leadership, build this capital within our organisations and become magnetic for workers in the Social Age. If we’re not, someone else will be, and do you really want all the best talent, all the most creative learners, to go there instead?