Linking formal and social authority in Social Leadership

Social leaders operate across both formal and social spaces: this is what gives the model it’s authority, the fact that it recognises the evolving environment of work and the convergence of these two spaces. I was talking to a few people over dinner last night about how our challenge is to find ways of carrying ‘reputation‘ between these spaces: where social leadership builds consensual authority in social spaces, we want to find ways to reconcile this with formal, hierarchical authority that is attributed within formal ones.

Formal and Social Reputation

Reputation is forged within communities, in social spaces: our challenge is to bring that across into formal environments, to recognise the validity of this authority against hierarchical and positional types

There are all sorts of challenges at play here: social spaces are rarely owned by the organisation, whilst formal ones are entirely under their control. Bringing together elements or outputs from these two can therefore present technical and regulatory challenges, but not challenges that we can’t overcome with a little careful planning and a willingness to experiment and find what works for our particular industry or sector.

Our challenge is to bridge the gap between the two so that we provide recognition of the reputation forged through social leadership approaches alongside the formal and hierarchical authority present in formal spaces. Remember, social leadership does not replace existing forms of authority, it supplements them by allowing us to operate effectively in these spaces (and, when formal models of authority are being eroded by wider changes in the Social Age, it means we are more effective, agile and relevant).

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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42 Responses to Linking formal and social authority in Social Leadership

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