I spent yesterday with various people running through the narrative of the Social Leadership model: today, i thought i’d just capture that as i refine and revise it. Social leadership encapsulates the mindset and skills required to be an effective leader in the Social Age. It recognises that power and authority are founded more on what you share and how you build your reputation than simple positional authority. Sharing and narrating trump command and control.
The nine components of social leadership join up to inform mindset, skills and activities. Being a social leader is about agility and fluidity of role: it’s highly contextual and can complement other styles. At heart, it’s anchored in principles and ethics of values led behaviour: it’s about authenticity and support. You can’t be a social leader alone.
The first concept of social leadership is Narration: this is about curation, storytelling and sharing. About finding things out, finding the meaning in it and sharing it with relevant people, adding value as you do so. It’s about being part of the conversation instead of part of the noise. Whilst socially collaborative technologies allow us to share easily, so much of what is shared, copied and reblogged is simply noise. Social leaders cut through the noise with relevance and clarity.
So Narrative is about:
CURATION – finding things out and determining what’s valid from what’s just noise. It’s about identifying networks and communities and seeing where the nodes and amplifiers sit. It’s about quality and coherence, not volume and mass.
STORYTELLING – do you know how to identify the narrative that sits under the story? Can you find the meaning? Social leaders need to be able to take their curated ideas and knowledge and forge coherent narratives, then flesh them out into stories that are relevant and timely to the audience. It’s about understanding how stories are told and retold, so although the individual words change, the narrative is constant.
SHARING – this is a core skill of the Social Age. Curating content, finding the meaning and then sharing the stories effectively. This may involve technology, but it’s not purely that. It’s a mindset to share that counts: recognising that knowledge in itself is no longer enough.
In summary, Narrative is about curating knowledge, finding the meaning within it, forming stories and understanding how to share and amplify these. Narrative skills form the heart of personal effectiveness for social leaders.
Following on from Narrative is Engagement. Engagement is about:
COMMUNITY – social leaders operate in communities: both formal and informal spaces where meaning is created. With narrative, we looked at how to be an effective storyteller, with engagement we are looking at the spaces those stories are told in and how to use them to build your reputation and authority. Community is about understanding why people engage in communities and how we can both form and sustain them effectively.
REPUTATION – as we move beyond purely hierarchical forms of power and authority, we enter the reputation economy. Reputation forms the engine of our effectiveness. If our reputation is weak, even if our stories are strong, we will struggle to get them heard or amplified. Reputation is forged in communities, founded on the quality of our stories and effectiveness of our sharing.
AUTHORITY is born from reputation, based on the stories we curate. Authority in the social age is fluid, not fixed in bricks and mortar, and may be contextual. This component of social leadership is about recognising when authority is exercised and how, about becoming magnetic.
In summary, Engagement is about understanding the shape and structure of informal and formal communities, understanding how and why people come together to work and learn. Reputation is the engine that powers our effectiveness: it’s based on actions, not hierarchy, and authority is the outcome. We seek authority as leaders, but it’s based on everything we’ve seen so far: curating knowledge, finding meaning, telling stories and understanding the ecosystem they exist in.
Following Engagement comes Technology. This isn’t about circuit boards and operating systems, it’s about social collaboration and reach. This is the section i’m most uncertain about and may revise, depending on feedback.
CO-CREATION is the process by which meaning is created within communities and the way in which culture changes over time. I use a seven stage model of co-creation, often taking place within scaffolded social learning environments. Co-creation and the co-ownership of change are core concepts for the Social Age. Relevant to this are notions of the three levels of narrative: personal, co-created in groups and organisational.
SOCIAL CAPITAL is one’s ability to survive and thrive in these spaces. Effective social leaders have high social capital and develop it in others. This generosity and humility reinforces reputation and authority.
COLLABORATION is what it’s all about: coming together and creating meaning, beyond that which we can do alone. Social Leaders collaborate widely: they engage in relationships without an expectation of immediate reciprocity. In time, all things balance out.
In summary, Technology is about socially collaborative conversations, about the co-creation of meaning in communities, about supporting engagement and development in these communities and about collaborating, to achieve more than we ever can alone.
The NET model of social leadership is a circle, because we keep moving around it. It’s what keeps us agile!