Social Leadership

I’m a big fan of employee surveys. I like employee surveys because I like predictable things and few things in business are as predictable as the results of an employee survey. Anyone with a decent EQ can spend a week or so inside a company talking with employees and predict the results of your typical employee survey with reasonable accuracy. 

If you’re unfamiliar with EQ it is an individual’s ability to understand other people, what motivates them and the ability to work cooperatively with them. Psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10-25% and the rest depends on everything else, especially EQ.

Here is a very general statement but I think it is fairly accurate: most people in leadership positions have at least a decent level of EQ.

They just aren’t social enough to use it.

To be a Social Leader requires that the leader be “out there” with the people they lead. They need to constantly take the pulse of their people. Social Leadership provides the leader with insights that no survey will ever provide them. 

It gives them insight and awareness to how their people will react to organizational change by understanding what is important to them and what motivates them. Social Leadership gives the leader an opportunity to develop the empathy to understand their people’s attitudes towards organizational issues and provides a clear line of sight to the team member’s points of view. 

The trouble with surveys is that they are typically an annual “event” and because of that they measure nothing more than a moment in time. People’s responses are affected by their emotions of the moment and because of that the survey results are of limited value. There was certainly a time when annual surveys where considered “state of the art” for HR professionals but that time has passed. 

Direct downward social interaction is the new “best practice.” Social Leaders use technology to get themselves “out there” like never before. They use Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to inform their people of what’s happening and get instant feedback from their followers. I’m obviously a believer in those tools but nothing, nothing, will ever beat face-to-face human interaction. So along with those tools I urge Social Leaders to conduct daily “innerviews” with a member of their organization. To be clear, this is not an interview of the kind you would do when selecting a new employee. This is an INNERview, a conversation to determine the thoughts, mood and morale of an individual team member. It’s about a 5 minute process where with a few thoughtful questions the Social Leader gains a perspective about their organization that cannot be gained any other way. Social leaders pick one individual a day from their organization and have a learning conversation.

Now I’ve shared the innerview concept long enough with countless numbers leaders to know the most common reason leaders give for not using it. “I don’t have time” is the usual objection. It’s the same reason many leaders give for not taping into social media to connect with their people. 

Think about that, these are the same leaders who would proudly say that “their people are their greatest asset.” In the next breath they say they “don’t have” 5 minutes to invest with their greatest asset to determine how they are doing. 

It not hard to become a more Social Leader, it simply requires a commitment to invest a piece of yourself and a bit of your time in your people. It’s one of the few investments you will ever make that has a guaranteed return. It’s a return that makes leading not only easier but more fulfilling as well. 

Are you willing to make the investment to become a Social Leader? 

9 thoughts on “Social Leadership

  1. I completely agree with you. I try to spend 5 minutes with every one of my group every day and I have 60 staff. I work for ups and the operation is about 4 hours long every so I just move from person to person and I am watching aspect of the operation from start time finish. If there is a bad apple in the bunch, I want to know. Ups, downs, all of it. It’s a key aspect for my business success so that no factor or personality can interrupt or negatively impact my job. It is also helpful that I like the people that I work with and am grateful for such a killer job.

    1. Thanks outstanding, remember to take some time out as well to reinforce the positive behavior that you see. And you’re right, it does help a lot when you genuinely like the people you work with!

  2. Many reasons why they’re not willing to be social. They’re afraid of appearing soft. Vulnerable.

    It’s never about time. That’s a convenient excuse.

    Steve, we both know when a leader engages on a personal level they’re seen as human, real, etc. This leads to trust and willingness to tell the leader what’s really going on inside the organization.

    The best leaders I’ve ever worked for were simply nice people.

    I hope you have a great week.

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