Social Leadership describes a form of leadership at the intersection of formal and social systems: as our Organisations become increasingly blurred, multi-dimensional, with less distinction between the ‘owned’ and ‘influenced’, more permeable, fluid in organisation, or simply fearful or desperate, it’s likely that we will need to explore (or invent) new systems of power that will underly new forms of structure, or whatever will pass for structure in a dynamic model of organisation!
Our challenge will be to re-invent the Organisation from the ground up, because the context of Organisation is shifting so significantly.
The premise of the Social Age represents a new context, and as context changes, so too does everything else: not simply a new competitive pressure, but rather a new pressure on effectiveness. The things we did before may lack potency, or simply drive in the wrong kind of strength in an evolving system.
Our legacy Organisations were substantially (or are substantially) of an Industrial model: premised upon the notions of resource collection and manipulation, within networks of transport and education, habitation and law that are inherently tied to geography and the limitations of both transport and communication technologies. But the future Organisation will not be like this.
The opportunity is to re-invent and re-conceptualise the mechanisms of effect.
Probably through a disaggregation of the previously connected: task and role, leader and power, story and control, system and safety, process and scale etc.
It’s not that we will not need these things: we will need clarity, strength, system and control, safety, innovation, and change, all at scale. But the mechanisms by which we achieve these things will differ: in general, more fluid and reconfigurable – more negotiated than demanded. Fairer.
New structures, new frames of leadership, new Organisations.
Can we adapt what we already have? Yes, because the constraint is largely conceptual, not logistical. But also maybe not, because the constraint is largely conceptual not logistical. The Organisation will not look different, beyond the fact it may use space differently), but it will be underpinned by different models of power, and a different mechanisms of operation.
It sounds dramatic, and it may be. But that cannot be helped: the context of the Social Age is a paradigmatic shift: we so easily see the technology, but sometimes forget to track it forward into the sociology – to recognise that we are different – and hence so too will our be our entities of productivity, engagement, and effect.
This is our challenge. This is the opportunity.