Social leadership brings people together, focusing on individuals while building interpersonal relationships, and breaks down silos to help people work together across groups towards unified organizational goals. While that sounds simple enough, it’s often difficult to define on an organizational level, because the steps and processes you take to get there depend on your organization, where your employees are, and how you work together.
A social business works together as a team, leveraging internal people, cultures, processes, and technology to create and develop as an organization, not just as individuals. Getting there means identifying where you are in the process, creating a concrete strategy, and developing agents for change. Along the way, you must show change as a motivational factor, so that employees, new and old, understand what you are working towards.
How to demonstrate social leadership
Work together and eliminate redundancy
Many companies know that if something is achieved in one business unit, another will likely start from the ground up to reduplicate their efforts. The same is often also true of internal processes in smaller companies. A successful digital ad will likely never be repurposed for use in video, print, or any other medium. Instead, the people responsible for building those products will simply create something new or work out how to get there from the ground up.
This process of ‘rebuilding the wheel’ is one of the organizational problems which social leadership works to circumvent. By bringing employees together and encouraging them to collaborate, you can build cost-saving instances of sharing and co-creation. That same digital ad could likely be repurposed and created for every ad medium, in a way that is just as successful – while cheaper and faster for every party involved.
One of the most difficult aspects of social leadership is managing priorities. Task-based leadership is often focused on accomplishing and achieving specific tasks. This can be beneficial in some roles and counterproductive in others. Social leadership prioritizes total goal accomplishment, personal development, and customer satisfaction. This enables or even empowers employees to do things in new ways, because they aren’t bound to completing specific tasks, which can boost overall productivity over time.
Change employee management techniques
Traditional task-based leadership involves creating strong hierarchy where a manager or supervisor tells their subordinates what to do, how to do it, and when. In social leadership, the manager discusses problems with the team, determines the best way to do it, uses team input to assign goals for individuals, and then allows them the autonomy to create a strategy to address those problems. This gives the team more freedom and flexibility to achieve, while enabling high-performers to step up, and ensures that everyone is part of the process.
Motivation is a crucial element of good performance. No one wants to work in an environment that is boring, unfriendly, or unrewarding. Social leaders reward their employees, allow people to be human, and often give leeway for failure but rewards for meeting or exceeding goals. This works to reduce pressure, create a friendlier and more welcoming environment, and reduces instances of goal-based procrastination, where employees don’t focus on their work because they are too afraid of failure.
While the exact application of social leadership will depend on your business, how social you already are as a company, your ability to integrate new leadership styles in a timely manner, and the regulations, requirements, and risks of your workplace. However, in every situation, the goal is to increase collaboration, motivation, and personal leadership.