Social Leadership represents a systemic approach, leadership within an ecosystem. But not leadership through hierarchy, formal authority, and sanction, but rather leadership through permission, consensus, and complex collaboration. It is not an alternative to more formal styles, but rather a compliment to them: the likelihood is that you need both. Formal power, which plays within formal systems, and Social Authority, which plays within social ones.
A new year feels like a time of renewal, and we may feel rejuvenated and refreshed after the holidays, but remember that growth may start with loss: what can we leave behind? We do not grow by adding on continuous layers of new thinking and action, but rather through adjustment, reflection, revision, and loss. Thinking about those things that we can leave behind.
It may be an evolution of our skills, or an adaptation of our mindset. Or maybe more than that: perhaps we choose to leave behind a conflict, a regret, or a doubt.
The leader that we were is the person that got us this far. But we may not yet be the leader that we can become. And to grow into this space may need us to lose something, before we can grow.
The path to Social Leadership is, with this in mind, a journey. One that we take over time, and which is embedded within our community. Much as our reputation is forged over time, through our actions, so too is our Social Leadership: earned through action, revised over time. Always a work in progress.
At this time of year, the fallen leaves form a pattern upon the ground. These are the leaves that formed the mighty canopies of last years summer. Even in decay they give us a certain winter beauty. We exist in a pattern of renewal and loss, but even as we think about growth, consider the things that we must leave behind.