Your mindset matters to how you are perceived and connect in social media. Whether internal or external to your organisations, the way you think and the way you lead play a critical role in your ability to influence others. As a senior leader atop the hierarchy, you have power and influence in your organisation (Admittedly that’s rarely quite as much as you would like). When you take your leadership position into the realm of social collaboration whether internal to your organisation or externally, there are a few key shifts in mindset from traditional models of leadership.
Keep these in mind these five key phrases:
- “Be the real human (& sometimes flawed) you”: Nobody is looking to get to know your communication manager’s idea of you. People don’t need you to be the perfect model executive. You can’t have a conversation with a corporate cardboard facade or get help from a PR bot. This is an opportunity to be more human and to use deeper connection and communication. It will demand that you share more of you. If there is more than one of you, one for work and others, then social collaboration will test your ability to maintain the curtain of separation. Using social media works best when you bring your whole self to the activity. You will learn new ways to demonstrate your strengths and authenticity in the process.
- “Think networks”: Social media flattens out the playing ground. Your current fame, power and fortune won’t deliver worthwhile connections or influence immediately. In this environment, your voice competes with many others and those that are better connected and more trusted will have greater influence than you regardless of their status. Your voice & authority is much more easily challenged and even mocked. Influence works along networks of trust and connections. Valuable business traction comes from deepening connections to stakeholders and influencers in your own world. Start there and build your influence over time as new connections join in to the valuable interactions that you help create.
- “Listen & Engage others”: Listen first. The network doesn’t need to hear you. Mostly it won’t. The network doesn’t need another opinion; it needs your response to and your engagement in the conversations already going on. If you want to deliver on your strategy, the path is through helping others to better align, understand and deliver that strategy with you. How you engage with others is more important in building influence in your network than who you are or what you have to say.
- “Be helpful”: Make connections & help others find those who can help them. Set context. Guide others. Enable others. Share stuff to help others solve problems for themselves. Ask great, thoughtful & challenging questions. Work aloud and let others prove their value by helping you. Connect with people to deliver them value. People are looking to learn more and help themselves. As a senior leader you can play a critical role
- “Experiment, learn & change stuff”: The value of human networking is to learn, connect with others and change things. Embrace difference & the chaos that many opinions and desire for change creates. After a while you will recognise the appeal of ‘being permanently beta’, always evolving to better value as you experiment test and learn. If you want to hear your own views, build your personal brand, increase your control or resist change, don’t start in any form of social collaboration. That attitude doesn’t show much respect for the efforts of the others in the network.
This is the first of two short posts on tips for the senior executive looking to move into using social collaboration tools inside and outside the enterprise. This post deals with mindsets. The next post will deal with how to start engaging.