By Susan Bagyura -
In a recent Forbes article, Haydn Shaughnessy highlighted the impact social media has in business, requiring leaders to adapt in order to grow. Essentially Shaughnessy says leaders need to very quickly understand what motivates people so they rally to them rather than the competition.
Many leaders having embraced the idea of transparency find themselves in the a similar to that of the emperor who wears no clothes as they are fully visible, known and even critically judged by people who are paid to judge them. In Shaughnessy’s book The Elastic Enterprise that he co-authored with Nicholas Vitalari, they refer to these pools of free agents as ecosystems. For leaders their businesses are often dependent on people they most likely will never meet.
It’s no longer just the employees, customers and possibly shareholders that the leader needs to impress, now they have these independent ecosystems that can have a strong influence on the business in a very short timeframe.
A young woman entrepreneur who owns an organic baby food company found this out recently when someone posted on the company Facebook a problem that she had with a food item. The company responded but it was viewed as unsatisfactory and then suddenly things turned sour as more and more people posted their concerns of how the company was dealing with it. This leader suddenly found herself and her company in a fight to survive.
The new leaders know that they must find a way to work with these peer groups and ecosystems as their businesses depend on it and they need the trust of these groups.
So what are the six new habits of highly effective leaders as described by Shaughnessy and Vitalari?
The new leaders are inventors rather than innovators. By that, they like to pull apart, tinker or uncover a new way of doing things. They seem to have a scientific or technological approach of looking at things. They aren’t satisfied with a better way of doing the same thing — they are committed to inventing something completely different.
They can take the challenges of the company and reframe them in a new way while sweeping everyone up in their new vision. Good examples of this are the boutique airlines. At a time when the major airlines are in a dogfight for survival, the boutique airlines are serving a minimum number of cities with the maximum style, all the while asking for hefty fares. People aren’t customers; they are members.
3. Attraction and orchestration
Now the leader must have the power of persuasion, speaking to a bigger picture in an attempt to appeal to people’s aspirations and impact behavioural changes. They need the status to orchestrate activity in the peer groups within their resource pools. Some leaders are finding it easier to accomplish this by having or starting a movement that crosses peer groups and invites people to join in. A young woman that I recently interviewed owns an organic children’s clothing company. She donates 15 per cent of the profits to building schools in Haiti. Many of her customers not only purchase her products, but they donate additional money in support of this movement.
With ecosystems, influence is prized in public spaces such as the Internet. This isn’t to be confused with a social media strategy, but is effectively being seen as wise, flexible, vocal and attentive plan. It’s great to be able to influence a debate, but caution should be exercised because a mis-step can be very costly. It’s worth remembering the flack that Matt Zuckerberg received when Facebook announced it would start charging a monthly fee to have an account. Bloggers around the world flayed him inciting a chorus of users to close their accounts. He’s done is again and let’s see what happens in the middle of March.
5. Drawing the lines
The new leaders are now setting boundaries unlike their predecessors, making clear distinctions between consultation and instruction as they look for new opportunities. It’s knowing when and where to draw the lines that makes the difference between success and failure. In current times, the new leaders must be able to “cultivate a strong sense of boundary setting and not be too susceptible, ie the open management fad, while also being accountable to peers. These are subtle differences to grasp.”
As the global competitive economy changes, it offers radical adjacency opportunities that many leaders are seizing; taking the companies into areas where they have no core competency. To prepare for this effectively, the new leaders need to be learning on a daily basis to develop an overall knowledge of how the new options, alternatives and markets can be integrated into the fold. At the same, they are sharing the message with the peers.
It was just a short while ago that the leader’s focus was on the customers — meaning the employees and the customer of the company. Now we are seeing further shifts in business and on the world stage as political leaders are now put under scrutiny by these ecosystems.
— Susan Bagyura, a leadership coach and author, works with leaders to inspire success from the top down. The book is available at Family Bookshop in MQ. The interview with Kyle Smitley may be heard at http://powderpuffguide.com/teleseminar_registrants.