I’m focussing effort on completing the 2nd Edition of the Social Leadership Handbook this week and next: with that in mind, expect a series of slightly disconnected reflective pieces as i #WorkOutLoud and review old ideas and generate new ones! Today: reflecting on how the shift into the Social Age has created the impetus for developing Social Leadership.
Formal Leadership operates in formal spaces: we still need it, we still need to develop it, we still need to exercise it. But it’s only fifty percent of what we need. In the Social Age, we operate in multiple communities, some fully formal, some fully Social, and many in between: neither one thing not the other. Certainly not owned and controlled by organisations, certainly not moderated or steered by them, but absolutely in conversations about organisational challenges, absolutely engaged in helping people succeed in their current roles (and get their next job).
That’s why the heart of Social Leadership is our ability to operate within, form, nurture and support community. We take our stance, we surface ideas, we share and interpret them, we help others succeed, with humility, with kindness, driving for equality, and through those actions we build our reputation.
With reputation, we gain Social Authority: authority that is contextual, consensual, awarded by the community (and equally easily removed by it). Social Authority is the authority that we wield in communities and it’s never bestowed, only earned.
If we try to carry formal authority into Social spaces, we either kill the conversation or make it formal: we may hear what we want to hear, but we fail to hear what we need to hear.
This is a fundamental shift: we cannot become truly Dynamic through formal authority alone. We have to be fully engaged in social spaces, fully accepted in those spaces, helping the people in those spaces to succeed. Only through this engagement can we carry out the sense making activities that will let us find our way as we navigate the constantly changing landscape of the Social Age.