Monday, February 15, 2010

Apparently, there's a fear among many senior leaders of adopting social media within their organisations as it will lead to a loss of power. Hierarchical business structures ensure that power is always at a higher level - and the real power resides in the Boardroom. Therefore, the thinking goes, if you democratise communication, you'll democratise decision making and those who sit in the Corporate Suite will be disempowered.

Frankly, that's a right old load of tosh and misses both the benefit of connecting people across your organisation and the real truth that no business is a democracy.

I'll leave the social media analysts to argue the first point. My limited, but pragmatic, understanding is that great ideas don't just happen at the top of any organisation. Therefore, if social media provides new tools to improve organisational effectiveness; to open up conversations among communities of interest within organisations and to make better ideas travel through the right parts of the organisation quicker - involving all the right people along the way - then why should any executives fear them?

As for turning businesses into democracies - tosh and double tosh. Isn't that where great leadership comes in? Great leadership isn't command and control. It's not sitting divorced from the organisation, reading the balance sheet and declaiming what should be done.

Today, more than ever, as most organisations take the first steps to economic recovery, it's all about being at one with the heartbeat of the organisation. It's still about all the traditional stuff of understanding your market, your stakeholders and the wider business environment and charting a path to deliver success. It's about having the right strategy to thrive and the cash, processes and technology to make it happen. But it's all about PEOPLE. It's how you bring them onside, involve them in making their working world better and tap into their expertise to make a better business outcome for everyone involved in the organisation.

The nub is that you don't have to know it all or do it all: the best leaders are those who can tap into the consciousness of the organisation and make the kind of decisions that enhance engagement AND improve business performance. That's real leadership.

Social media are tools that can help that happen. So why on earth should any organisational leaders be afraid of them?

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