By Barry Libert
If they want their businesses to remain viable and profitable, today’s leaders need to build their own networks of interconnected people—what I call a “Social Nation.” People in a Social Nation will support you because you support them. Building a Social Nation requires shifts in culture, mindset, and leadership. It’s no easy task; it can't be accomplished without a little prior introspection.
The purpose of my book Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business is to help leaders and managers get a sense of where their strengths are and how they can improve those and strengthen their other business competencies. Knowing what social skills you have is vital to understanding your own particular brand of leadership. It can improve your ability to make friends, fans, and followers—and ultimately—to succeed in business.
Consider the following eight social types and try to determine where your strengths and challenges lie:
- Adaptors (Remain flexible). The ability to adjust expectations and behavior on the fly to fit any type of situation is crucial in the fast-paced world of business. Adaptors are comfortable dealing with shifted plans and the unpredictable world of social networks and online communities. They can help identify problem areas quickly and can implement a change in strategy as needed. Leaders must always be prepared to deal with the unexpected. With social media, things move at such an extreme pace that this skill is vital.
- Architects (See the big picture). Having a clearly defined mission for how to get to where you want to go is a skill that is often overlooked. Architects, however, have a knack for visualizing the direction their organization needs to be heading. In sustaining a social presence, architects keep conversations going by infusing them with this vision. Too often, organizations get bogged down in the details and they lose sight of their overall goals. While the little things certainly matter and help to keep a business running day to day, the big picture should be the ultimate focus. Architects remind us of that purpose, especially when it comes to creating a social strategy.
- Collaborators (Work together). Being a team player is absolutely essential to the success of any business. Collaborators enjoy being part of a support system of people who share a common purpose. They often measure their own success as a function of the team's success, and they help build social community. Collaborators are also great at revving up team participation. They aren't afraid to approach people and build relationships outside an organization's normal sphere of communication.
- Connectors (Control the chaos). This is the ability to organize the diverse aspects of day-to-day business to achieve results. Connectors integrate a variety of viewpoints and perspectives into a complete composition that encourages social interactions and conversations to run smoothly. Connectors thrive on devising new configurations and assisting in linking discussions through diverse mediums to harmonize an organization's social media strategy with its overall business goals.
- Creative Thinkers (Think innovatively). Proposing new ideas can rejuvenate a team and keep them from falling into a rut. Creative thinkers come up with new, inventive ways to tackle familiar challenges. They enjoy being enlightened while collecting new information. Additionally, they are skilled at finding unusual connections among people and content within a Social Nation.
- Transparent Individuals (Break down the façade). People who are open and honest are likely to gain trust and respect from others. For transparent individuals, authentic communication is the name of their game—and they encourage their organization to increase its level of transparency by sharing through social media. Social media, by its very nature, is built upon the assumption that online communities will provide a venue for unhindered communication. In fact, it's often scarier for companies to hide information than it is for them to share it. Transparent individuals encourage their organizations to be open and transparent.
- Risk Takers (Don't be afraid to try something new). Venturing into unknown territory may be scary, but it can also be very rewarding. Risk Takers know that there is much to be gained through trial-and-error learning. They are motivated by progress. Unlike risk-averse naysayers, they'll gladly take on the social movement challenge.
- Visionaries (Imagine the possibilities). Instead of focusing on obstacles, thinking about alternative outcomes and solutions can help energize and inspire others. Visionaries are intuitive. They challenge the status quo in hopes of reaching a better future. They also help identify the next big trends—which is exceptionally vital to building a social strategy. They also add value thanks to their ability to determine long-term, best-case scenarios for an organization's strategy.
Remember: try to achieve a balance between all eight traits. You're probably not going to master all of them. Tackle them as a team, and your organization can make progress in building a successful social strategy and, ultimately, a true Social Nation.
If you would like to take an online self-assessment to determine your social skills, strengths and challenges, visit www.socialnationbook.com
About the Author(s)
Barry Libert is the author of Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business (Wiley, 2010, www.socialnationbook.com). Author of five books on the value of social and information networks, he is chairman and CEO of Mzinga®, a provider of social software, services, and analytics and serves on the board of directors at Innocentive and the SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.