For social business to thrive, open leaders must step up, people need to connect, and innovation should be allowed to flourish.
Dan Pontefract's recent book, Flat Army, reviews and engages the idea that a social business requires open leaders to thrive and, ultimately, creates open leaders by the nature of the experiment. Dan defines open leadership as "the act of engaging others to influence and execute a coordinated and harmonious conclusion."
[ Management by tweeting around: 10 IT Leaders To Follow On Twitter. ]
The harmonious conclusion of social business is producing a better product or service that makes a positive impact on people's lives. An open leader uses collaboration tools to engage with other leaders and employees within an organization to bring this about. Social technologies support the levels of engagement that are necessary in successful, connected organizations. Open leaders use these tools strategically to connect to advocates and influencers within the organization as well as their ideas and projects. These connections and the innovation that follows drive product advancement. It is the leadership and culture that define the level of innovation in your organization.
Social business is less about the technology and more about people making the right connections with one another. Open leaders see the opportunity for people to work together to a common purpose using the tools as ways to build a competitive advantage for their organization. Social technology gives everyone the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences. When organizations adopt or encourage open and collaborative leadership along with the social tools that empower people to engage, innovation will increase. John Ruzika with Vistage touched on this point in a recent post about how strong social connections increase team innovation -- mentioning social business technology, such as Jive or Yammer, as an avenue to increased innovation and collaboration.
Open leaders are great listeners. They use social tools to hear what members of the organization are saying and to connect people and ideas. Being able to build bridges within the organization, collaborative leaders create a cohesive and synergistic business with internal and external clients. They reward and amplify other leaders that engage across the organization. Positive psychology used by leaders in a social experiment presents an opportunity for organizations to increase employee retention and become incubators for new ideas. A true social business is a network of networks.
If social business offers so many advantages, why is it struggling? Recently, Gartner found that social business experiments will likely fail due to inadequate leadership support and an overemphasis on technology. Social experiments are an effort in organizational change -- a change in the way we work. With a strategic approach and a shift toward open leadership, organizations can be truly social and gain all the advantages as such.
In her book Open Leadership, author Charlene Li argues that openness is inevitable as "information leakage" is everywhere due to the adoption of social technologies. She says open leadership requires tremendous rigor, setting forth strategies and guidelines for the responsible use of collaboration tools as relationships are redefined across organizations and beyond. Li is arguing for a cultural shift from conventional management to open leadership. She presents strategies and archetypes for leadership to adapt to the new, collaborative workplace. Organizations considering social technologies should think strategically and consider the broader change to their culture and how that ultimately will gain a greater share of the market.
Is your organization adopting social business? What kinds of leadership opportunities are currently present in your organization? What opportunities are opening up? Let us know in the comments section.