7 Habits of Highly Effective Social Leaders

7 Habits of Highly Effective Social Leaders

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Image: hanspoldoja/Flickr

Leaders that ignore the Social Business Revolution will be replaced. If you don’t buy into it, your competitors will — they’ll take your job, your company, and your place in history. Sound far-fetched? It happened during the industrial revolution leading to mass production, the digital revolution leading to eCommerce services — and it’s happening again today.

Some leaders within each revolution didn’t like the change and rejected the idea based on their current state of thinking. Don’t be one of them.

The ROI of Social Business is Survival

During the industrial revolution, mechanized cotton spinning increased the output of a worker by a factor 1000. With that kind of productivity increase, the traditional way we had worked was just not cutting it anymore and an entire industry, formerly dominated by part-time seasonal workers, was replace by factories ultimately leading to mass production. Same as with the digital revolution that is in full swing today. E-commerce and just-in-time production are all enabled through digitization. Today products get sold before their physical production has actually started and in some instances with digital products (such as mobile apps), we see some are already sold during the design phase. With processes changing so dramatically, the traditional players had to fundamentally rethink their approach to stay alive.

According to a recent McKinsey report on social business, each major industry has the ability to improve its margins between 60-100% by leveraging social technologies. Those improvements are based on a fundamental change in the way people work, feel about their work and collaborate. Products get developed with the customers together from early design stages, customer support is provided by customers to customers. The moment you need to pay for employees when your competitor has their customers doing part of the job — for free, you realize that there is simply no way to continue working in the traditional way. To believe you can run a business competitively without incorporating the ideas of social business is like running a factory without automation or running a bank without digital trading systems. The ROI of social is very simple: Survival!

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Social Leaders

Assuming you get my point about the inevitable need to adopt social business, here are 7 very simple and easy to apply habits that help you to get the most out of your investment in social business.

Think People: Seems obvious, right? But it’s the people that we so often forget. If you think about it, social technology lets us be human again. We can interact like we are meeting at the water cooler – now digitally. Imagine the most powerful conversations in meetings now happening globally across your entire organization; giving your people power gives them the motivation they look for in the workplace.

Think Business: You’re thinking, “social is a phase”? Don’t get caught up in this thinking, there is real business value. Every activity that involves people working together is waiting for social to add value. If studies suggest that organizations could gain 20-25% in productivity1, you need to listen. Social business will make your organization more productive.

Think Technology: Every revolution was supported by technology. With the industrial revolution we overcame our physical limitations, the digital revolution expanded our knowledge capabilities. Social technologies are expanding our emotional networking capabilities. It’s like connecting to every single employee but in a very personal way. Make sure that your social technology works with your infrastructure (e.g. SAP, Oracle or SharePoint).

Think Trust:
 The biggest mental barrier leaders have with social is the idea that your people should be “working,” not talking, implying that talking to each other through digital channels is not working. You need to rethink this notion. Your people want to work, they want to achieve something and it is your job trust the people you have hired. If you can’t trust your people, you’re simply not a leader.

Don’t Bet the Farm: With every new idea or technology, the excitement rises and best practices are thrown out of the window. Common sense and basic compliance rules still apply. You shouldn’t make your IP vulnerable, you don’t have to trust your data to an undefined network and you don’t have to accept terms and conditions that you don’t understand.

Measure It:
 Unlike popular belief, social business activities can be measured. The fact is, the new approach allows you to get a better picture of what is going on than ever before. Identifying communication and collaboration patterns allows you to reshape processes to the needs of your people. Filtering and sentiment analysis allows you to understand the mood your organization is in.

Get Started:
 The biggest barrier I see is organizations over complicating how social can be implemented. Most likely you have some sort of collaborative environment in place, that is a good start to build on. Don’t get paralyzed by plans, bite the bullet and get started. If you don’t, the competition will.

It is truly an exciting time. For many of us, we try to imagine what life was like during those prior revolutionary periods. Here and now we have that amazing opportunity to be part of such a major change. Knowing the impact these revolutions had before us, the opportunity is ours to recognize this next major shift and help to shape the future of the social workplace.



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