Longevity, expertise and position: the subversive power of reputation

Working today on Chapter 2 of the new book, ‘Learning and working in the Social Age‘. Sharing here the start of a section on how reputation, forged in communities, subverts more formal models of power and authority. The links will take you back to original articles. This notion of reputation sits at the heart of a number of pieces i’m working on, for example, you can find it within the NET Model of Social Leadership as a source of authority, as well as in conversations about the new Social Contract between employer and employee.

“The Social Age turns certain accepted principles of organisation on their heads. The relationship between hierarchy and authority is one of them, particularly the mountaineering analogy of power, whereby the higher you climb, the more powerful you are. Start in the Post Room in the basement and climb your way up to the heady heights of the Boardroom at the top, with panoramic views and a private washroom. We used to hold a close association between longevity, position and authority, but that’s largely been subverted in the Social Age as reputation trumps them all.”

“This isn’t an argument for abandoning formal hierarchies of power: rather a recognition that structures of authority are changing and that we need to keep up.”

“Communities are multi faceted and diverse: each member bringing their unique combination of skills, experience and expertise, each curating their reputation and narrating their stories. As we increasingly turn to communities to help us in our quest for meaning, our reputation within those communities inherently imbues us with ever greater authority, founded not on our altitude within an organisation, but on the strength, relevance and quality of the stories that we tell. If we are effective within our communities, we gain reputation and authority.”

I’ll be sharing more sections as i work on this over the next couple of months. If you’re interested in being a reviewer, do get in touch.

The Social Age of Learning

We are in the Social Age of learning, where everything about how we work, learn and perform is changing

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Authority, Book, Challenge, Community, Hierarchy, Leadership and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Longevity, expertise and position: the subversive power of reputation

  1. cedbo says:

    Hi Julian
    Question of “attitude” rather than “altitude” then? Looking forward to the book!

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