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Social Leadership

The Future of Leadership is Social

  |   Leadership   |   No comment

As many of you know who know me, I started Mzinga’s predecessor company in 1997 based on three fundamental beliefs – women are poised to become leaders, social technologies will create a paradigm shift within business, and successful leadership will be closely correlated to social aptitude.

1. ‘My wife is right': Put simply, this message suggests that:In an industrial age, men rule. I win because I am 50% bigger (6’1″ vs. 5’4″) and nearly 100% stronger. In an age where physical might matters, I rule because I can use my strength and physical abilities to produce more labor.In an informational age (the last 50 years), men and women rule. We both win because we are equally equipped to access and process information that enhances our productivity. In addition, we frequently use the tools that allow us to manage those assets – computers. In the relationship age (an emerging age) where social interactions matter most, women rule. My wife along with her female peers are better equipped to deal with and lead others – they have the social skills, honed over years, if not centuries, to make the necessary connections that enhance human endeavor across all industries.

The good news for me is that I am not alone in my thinking. Dan Goleman, the author of many books surrounding this same topic, agrees – and his book on EQ (emotional intelligence) provides good supporting evidence of this approach even if it does not use the same words.

2. Social technologies will alter business processes and economics: Increasingly, web 2.0 technologies and their related social economic sites including Facebook , Myspace, as well as our offerings at Mzinga, changes the economic dynamics of business. These new technologies engage people personally and create intimate relationships among and between businesses and their constituents.

The result: the old expression, “Don’t take it personally, it’s just business,” will fade as leaders realize that business is personal and the more personal leaders make their businesses, the more successful their businesses will be.

This approach is further amplified in a world that is flat (e.g. where anyone can make anything and sell it to everyone). Said differently, the only durable advantage in a flat world will be the ability of businesses and their leaders to create personal, trusted relationships using today’s social technologies. The resulting economics of this new social approach to enterprises will be monumental starting with the following job functions:Social Marketing will drive revenues, create loyal customers, help launch new products … faster, better, cheaper than beforeSocial Learning will improve training and employee development … faster, better, cheaper than with today’s approachesandSocial Support will enhance customer service … faster, better, cheaper than using existing call centers

3. Future leaders will be social if they want to succeed – In the 2008 presidential campaign between Obama and McCain, Barack continues to shine as a socially attuned leader – whether it using his own social network www.mybarack.com to build his global community (where McCain has not) or his willingness to remain on stage after a debate is over and McCain walks off or his understanding of the power of www.myspace.com, www.youtube.com or www.facebook.com participants, Barack is a new type of leader that uses social technologies and social intelligence to connect and engage with his constituency.

According to today’s WSJ article, ‘The Obama campaign, with its legions of organizational volunteers, “has been brilliant about taking [its community’s] support and turning it into something that used to cost a lot of money’. Further, the numbers tell the whole story for Obama. And as my partner and CEO of Mzinga always says – ‘Numbers are apolitical’. In Barack’s case, those numbers are – he has nearly four times as many Facebook supporters as McCain and nearly 3 times as many Youtube views. The result, in today’s internet age, where everyone is on-line and talking, Barack is gaining momentum.

Now you may disagree with ‘my wife being right’, or not accept ‘that social technologies is changing business processes’ or even that ‘future leaders will lead based on their social competencies’. But, I have no doubt about it, in a world that is connected, conversing and increasingly social, our future leaders will need to become connected, conversationally oriented and social conscious. From my perspective, that is good news for many reasons – our leaders will be focused on us, not themselvesthey will be externally focused, not internally focusedand they will understand our needs from a very personal perspective, not just from a superficial, business or political perspective. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a better world with better leaders to me.

BTW: Today, Barack just announced that his campaign raised more than $150 million in the month of September, the largest sum ever raised by a presidential candidate in a single month. But the more important fact is that ithe Obama campaign said that in September they “added 632,000 new donors for a total 3.1 million donors to date.” The statement added: “The average donation for the month was less than $100. The average contribution for the campaign is $86 – true proof of the value of community, social leadership and the changing world of community economics.

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