Where does it start? You reply to the advert, get an interview, shortlisted and complete the psychometrics. You get the letter and go through induction, new starter, first team leadership role and finally management. A function, a department, a Division, country, region. Finally the executive, chairman and retirement, when you take a seat on the board of a charity. It’s a long ladder, but where does Social Leadership kick in?
The ladder we just climbed is hierarchical: start down low, ascend to the heavens. Your authority and positional power and reach increase with altitude. As a new inductee, you can’t even claim expenses for a cup of tea: as an exec, it’s first class flights. But not everything correlates to altitude: we can be honest at every level, we can be fair, we can be trusted. We can effect change and own it. We can influence and support, challenge and nurture. We can exhibit and benefit from the traits of Social Leadership at every level, even if the trappings of hierarchical leadership are still a distant dream.
In the Social Age, your career is your own: the route map i painted above no longer exists, at least not within one single organisation. Within a sector or industry maybe. Each step up, each new rung, is likely taken in a different business. And nobody but yourself and your community have an eye on your future.
Which is why everyone needs to consider communications skills, communities, social authority and social capital: mainstays of the NET Model of Social Leadership.
We can work with Executives to develop their curated stance, their storytelling and humility. We can help them compliment their significant positional authority with social authority, grounded within the community. We can work with leaders of others, sat in the middle hierarchy, helping them support and nurture, make fair decisions and lead, with the permission of the communities they serve and support. And we can work with apprentices and new starters to help them take ownership of their reputation and build their authority and stories over time.
It’s never too early to learn about leadership, because within our communities, it’s contextual and consensual and you may be leading earlier than you think.