Social Business Leadership – 5 Practices

Social Business Leadership – 5 Practices

Social Business LeadershipSocial Business Leadership

I recently have had a number of discussions with senior executives about the changing role of leadership and what it means. As many organisations evolve into being more open and social debates are arising around how structures, roles and relationships need to change to fit social business, but it is the leadership itself that has to be the start point for organisational change (see earlier post of CEO priorities by McKinsey).

In talks we started to frame how social business leadership was different to current practices and what new skills needed to be cultivated for leadership. I also asked a question in Linkedin about social business leadership – the role of Social Business Leadership as organisations move to becoming Open and Social which you can view Linkedin Question (please join in).

I thought though I would share this report on the BBC I watched during a break from writing this blog. In the video the famous Sir Robert McAlpine of the Eden Project comments on the need to innovate and investors (video here):

[box style=”quote”]If you are an investor…find some projects that really excite you and have the swagger of a pirate, the boldness of an industrialist and humanity of a socialist and you will probaly end up somewhere in the middle…this is the Country that had James  Watt, Robert Stevenson and all those greats…have we lost our Cajones? [/box] – simply brilliant and it resonated with this VERY popular article from Forbes:

[box style=”quote”]Top talent leave an organization when they’re badly managed and the organization is confusing and uninspiring.[/box]

At the moment there are real and great opportunities to inspire and innovate – for social business leadership to harness change and reinvigorate their organisation.

Social Business Leadership – The Challenges of Change

Let’s look at some of the changes that impact on the idea of social business leadership:

  • Employee attitudes have changed:
    • they expect more from their employers – mercer survey and ONS survey
    • when conditions are wrong people become increasingly disengaged and unhappy – Forbes
    • younger generations expect greater flexibility in how they work – Cisco
    • People want to identify with their own dreams and purpose to live a more fulfilled life –
  • The machine is dead, the skills needed for today’s workplace:
    • historically we organised and mimicked the machine culture  even in our language; management treating people as numbers and measured on outputs
    • two thirds of GDP (US and UK) are driven by service sectors and even production has become more automated requiring higher levels of knowledge workers e.g. engineers
    • We have moved from a industrial to a knowledge based economy – dispersed knowledge and collaborative environments
  • Growth of women as leaders:
    • Women and equality of women present economic opportunities for growth – Forbes
    • Women are educated and want to achieve – Forbes
  • Socialisation of knowledge:
    • Knowledge has gone from hard to access and of high value to connected and free
    • Collaboration has accelerated the speed and pace of innovation
    • People are more aware of opportunities, self-development, learning from each other without institutions
In a nutshell the world has changed faster than the majority of leaderships expected and they have held on to old ways of working perpetuated by established systems rather than seeking new. The result is that new and disruptive change is now seismic in many industries.
[box style=”quote”]Management is a dodgey technology for the 21st Century – Dan Pink[/box]

5 Practices for 21st C Social Business Leadership

Organisations are having to face into a time when change is norm and the need to become agile and innovative are critical. To meet these demands social business leaders need to adapt to this dynamic environment and move towards a new model of inclusion, participation and shared value.
Some factors influencing social business leadership:
  • From long to short – organisations need to make decisions faster and need to evolve away from a large chain of command to more agile units of decision making. Greater empowerment matched with accountability.
  • Faster rate of learning – organisational learning now is a critical factor for innovation and moves learning from purely formal to a much higher blend of the two – see Social Learning presentation
  • Dispersed and remote workers and a larger reliance on partnerships
  • The openess and transparency of organisations as the line between employees and customers blur