The Friday before last I took an hour out of my day to listen to a webinar about Charlene Li's latest book, Open Leadership. (Shortly, you will be able to listen to this webinar and the other in the series as well.) This particular session was on redefining leadership. What exactly does leadership mean in the world of social media? Charlene had a great guest speaker, Jim Kouzes who wrote the Leadership Challenge and, his new book, The Truth About Leadership.
Two things really struck me about the webinar. The first is a comment Jim made. He said that he uses more social media tools, and uses them more often, than his 21 year old grandson. Then, he tweeted back to me:
In my day job, I utilize The Leadership Challenge to teach leadership skills; now, the author is talking to me! He provided a personality for the book that I have read and have had many leadership students read. And he says he is more effective at social media than a person who is stereotypically suppose to excel at social. This is turning into more than I ever expected to get out of a free event. He is showing that "getting" social media is a mindset, not an age requirement. He is showing how he is leading with the tool as well. He is responding to his "membership".
Second, he is leading openly. What do I mean by that? Jim is being authentic about who is and what he stands for by putting himself out there. Unlike other "leadership experts" that you can find all over Twitter, he is responding. He is making himself vulnerable. He is really modeling the way for other leaders and executives. (Area 1, anyone catch that?) He answers questions and retweets too! It is exactly what I am looking for in a leader. He is demonstrating what a leader is in a different tool that is assessable by all.
Fast forward a bit. I was in a meeting with 2 other staff and a member. The member was saying how she understands social but she isn't sure about it, but she really wants to do better. I went off on my little spiel and ended with what Jim taught me. CEOs, associations, and businesses in general need to embrace the tool as a means of leadership. It is a way to show who the organization is, what it stands for and where it is going. For the CEO, it is a way to lead your membership and inspire them in ways that haven't been attainable before. It can show your authenticity in ways that required you to be in person for in the past. In the end, the person got it. It took some time, but the added input on social not just connecting people, but allowing you to lead really hit home for her.