Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Collaborative, values based leadership and the role of Social Media

I read with interest the following press release from Henley Business School - could it be that we have another indication that there is a significant shift in our priorities as raised in my last post. The key parts of the press release are abstracted below:

"Henley Business School has released a collaborative paper from five leading academics who offer their individual perspectives on the emerging task for business leaders in particular.

There are several common themes ... one of these is the belief that there will be a renewed emphasis on sincere, genuine, transparent, values-based leadership. This means the leader needs to empathise with values that reflect the priorities of all the stakeholders; employees, shareholders, community and society at large.

There should be a collaborative nature to leadership with the recognition that one person does not and should not hold all the answers or power. There is a need for robust governance and this should be backed by corporate structures that enforce that governance.

I know I am at risk of saying that the answer to any question is "Social Media" and fully admit to becoming a SM bigot but in this example there is clearly a role to be played by SM.

In my last post I suggested that the new coalition government may have happened upon the public shift to openness and collaboration but the research from Henley adds more weight to the argument that there is a shift happening. To effectively use social media we preach that organisational behaviours have to be; organic, transparent, authentic, trustworthy and community focussed. We also identify collaboration as a major benefit from SM tools.

The question in my mind is;

Has the use of social media made possible the shift to open and transparent behaviour OR has it forced that same shift to happen for fear of the negative consequences?

Let's be positive and assume the early movers to the new leadership styles are in the former camp .... but I bet there will be more followers in the latter!

As usual I would welcome you views.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Social Media and Academics

I was at an interesting meeting today at that excellent establishment Henley Business School. HBS are looking at the next phase of their social media strategy and as a Henley alumnus (MBA 96) I was there to provide input from the alumni as well as my thoughts on SM strategies. It was a positive session and I am looking forward to getting the new strategy underway.

One interesting feature was a perceived reluctance from some academics to use blogs. This seems strange to me as they are generally opinionated (quite rightly), like to share their opinions (lectures), like to be well regarded (kudos) and good at writing (it's their job). So from my simplistic viewpoit it would seem that Blogs would be a natural medium.

So why the reluctance? It could be the professional standards based on peer reviews and double blind referreed papers make the idea of something as free format as a blog seem uncomfortable. But speaking as a practioner, I'd like to hear more views or opinions on current topics with can act as brain food. The time it takes to get academic journals published are not compatible with the speed business models are changing. For example, anyone trying to publish papers on social media has a real challenge to be currrent and useful.

So the answer may be to encourage more snapshots of academic research, considered viewpoints or maybe provacative questions. Dr Neil Hair at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State has created his community of "lab rats" where he can pose questions and test ideas (http://www.neilhair.com/neilslabrats/) so there are great examples where this happens.

Come on guys, you've got lots of stuff we are interested in and we'd love you to share some of it!

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Big Society and Social Media

I am pondering the similarities between the "Big Society" vision of the new UK government (the Liberal/Conservative Coalition) and the rise of social media and social networking. Both seem to be about putting control into the hands of the people and reducing the concept of centralised control. Both seem to be about trust - we trust each other more than we trust governments and corporations and do not believe that these organisations know what is best for us. A quote being liberally Tweeted yestersday was from Sir Ronald Cohen at the Harvard Business School Class Day 2010 - "people don't want charity; they want choice". In other words, don't tell me what to do but support me in doing what I want to do.

Am I detecting a social media led shift away from being controlled? Either by our governments, our suppliers or retailers or even our medical professionals. We no longer accept what we are told or what we are given and certainly want our opinions taken into consideration - whether that be about national legislation, buying products and services or during a consultation with our doctor.

David Cameron uses "Big Society" to describe his vision of returning power to the people, more local control of local issues. I don't think this has been explained very well but I think I am begining to get it by looking through the social media lens. Hazel Blears, the Labour MP and former Minister, was on the "This Week" programme last night expressing her view that the "Big Society" would have sat well in Tony Blair's Labour government. However, it appears the problem was that he could not get support from the great controller Gordon Brown (aka The Great Leader). Maybe this is one of the reasons Gordon Brown was so unpopular - he was out of synch with a population that wants more control and less controlling.

The fantastic growth in the use of social media is making this shift possible. Look at the examples of Facebook campaigns which quickly garner huge support for causes or in protest against issues. On the flip side, the social media opportunities to test these products or political ideas before launch or publication are equally great.

It seems inevitable to me that power is shifting to the people and that social media tools are making this possible. These days trust can only be gained through greater transparency and looser controls rather than through exploiting positions of power or by media spin.

Social media and the big society, is it a compelling combination for you?