The realities of leadership are changing: positional authority is being subverted by reputation, built in communities. For this reason, Social Leaders have to be more agile, more able to respond to the synchronous dialogues of the social era, able to connect in communities and reciprocate effectively. Social Leadership is very much about actions in the moment, within a mindset that develops reputation over time.Each of the three dimensions of the NET model has three components, so for Narrative we have explored ‘curation‘, ‘storytelling‘ and ‘sharing‘. The three components of the Engagement dimension are ‘community‘, ‘reputation‘ and ‘authority‘. Today i will give an overview of these, alongside some practical ideas for how these skills would be developed.
Community is the reality of the Social Age: we come together in communities to learn, to explore, to challenge and to co-create shared meaning. Communities maybe emergent and short lived, formed around specific challenges or projects, or they may be personal learning networks that travel with us throughout our careers. Communities may be entirely social or completely formal: they are often specialist and we belong to and contribute within a wide range.
Not all communities are the same: learning communities tend towards more structure, a scaffolded approach to discussion, whilst fully social ones are less structured, happy to move with the trends. Social leaders need to be able to engage within communities with humility and consistency: they need to develop a tone of voice that helps build reputation, but reputation will be formed on quality of curation and storytelling, skills we explored under ‘Narrative’.
Social Leadership skills around community are about participation and creation: sometimes taking part in active communities, but as leaders they also need to be able to form spontaneously emergent ones around specific challenges, drawing upon their reputation to build and sustain these. Social Capital is a key concept, and developing this in others a key skill.
Practical: exercises around mapping communities and our participation within them, developing social capital in others and around tone of voice for engagement. Moderation skills and an understanding of the lifecycle of moderation are also valuable.
In the Social Age, reputation is vital and it’s under our control: reputation is founded upon our actions, our responses, our tone of voice and stance. It’s built, forged, in real time within our communities and a strong reputation is the hallmark of a good leaders. Reputation in the Social Age is based upon our ability to create meaning and to help others to do the same: it’s usually less about knowledge, more about agility, the skills to find things out and synthesise those things into an interpretation, creating new meaning. Then taking action: reputation is about getting things done and supporting others as they do the same.
In the Social Age, humility and sharing are key reinforcers to reputation, recognising the agile nature of work and roles within teams. Indeed, i’ve often said that social leadership is a fluid role, defined by the moment, not by a job title: good social leaders will sometimes pass the baton round when circumstances warrant it. It’s contextual.
Practical: exercises around narration and tone of voice help us to think about reputation. There will be a model around reciprocity for this section too.
The nature of Authority is changing: away from positional, hierarchical authority, more about reputation driven impact. Newer models are subverting the old. The Social Leader needs to recognise the source of their authority (through developing reputation) and be effective at using that power (through honing narrative and community skills).
The foundations of authority in the Social Age are within community, it’s this grassroots connection that allows social leaders to be truly agile, to deploy their networks in support of change, indeed, to welcome change (because they recognise that change is constant and presents opportunities).
Practical: models of authority, self diagnostic to map areas of influence, developing agility in forms of response, influence and contracting with teams.
The Engagement dimension of social leadership is all about connecting with communities and teams and delivering change. Reputation gives us authority, grounded within community. Engagement is where things happen. It’s the thing most desired by organisations and the thing that can only be built on integrity and humility in the Social Age.
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