Yesterday I was invited, at the last minute, to join a panel of articulate and gifted women to present and discuss women in leadership for the Women in Leadership Foundation mentorship program here in Vancouver. I was honoured to be part of such an esteemed group that included Cindy Hogg – Moving the Human Spirit, Agnes Garaba – SAP – Head of HR Canada, Stephanie Redivo – GIRLsmarts4tech & SAP – Senior Project Manager and Ingrid Kastens – Executive Director Pacific Community Resources Society. As is often the case with me, I jumped in with both feet without giving it much thought then began to panic: “what will I say”, “what do I know about leadership” said the pesky voices in my head. So I broke it into bite sized chunks.
Thanks to Gwen Gnazdowsky for facilitating this great event and to Sherry Baumgardner for sharing the lovely photos below.
What Leadership Means to Me
For me leadership is all about sharing my knowledge with others so that they can learn from me and from the mistakes and successes I’ve had along the way. It is also about learning from the experiences and knowledge of thought leaders – people to whom I am very thankful to every day because they share their insights and help me stay abreast of developments in such a fast changing industry (shout out to Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Goden, Mitch Joel, Scott Stratten and all the influencers who tirelessly lead and share).
Leadership is all about inspiring others to do great things but it’s not about doing it for them nor is it about forcing them to do things your way. I’ve had some great bosses over the years but not all of them have been great leaders (or even good ones for that matter!).
Leadership and Social Media
Social media gives us a vehicle to lead and to be influenced like never before. We live in a time when technology allows us to inspire others and lead in brand new ways. Twenty years ago leadership was more about personal one on one connections. You could read books by leaders but there was little or no interaction. You could influence and be influenced by colleagues, bosses and partners but it was difficult to influence a wider audience.
I am not saying that personal, one on one leadership connections are no longer important to leadership (they are still paramount) but now things are different and we’re so fortunate to live at a time when we can augment personal relationships to influence, interact and collaborate with like minded people across the globe online.
During our panel the other speakers talked about connections, about trust, about corporate culture, about partnerships and about inspiring creativity. Social media enhances our ability to do each of these.
Key Components to Social Leadership
1. Connections – social media allows us to connect with younger generations in the forums they are most comfortable with so that we can help and influence them in positive ways. It also allows us to connect and learn from those influencers, to grow those connections into valuable relationships and to take advantage of their sage advice to have a positive impact on you and your career or business. Humans have produced more information in the last 2 years than ever before but if you are following the right people rather than haphazardly following everyone and anyone you will be exposed to great content.
2. Content – social media allows us to share our wisdom and learnings and to disseminate great content that we find online with other interested parties. One of the purposes if this blog is to share content that is valuable and might inspire other businesses and marketers. As an influencee, the ability to listen effectively is key here, to know how to use hashtags and lists.
3. Communication – social media allows us to communicate with much wider audiences and to connect one on one or one to many like never before. Effective communication is the top attribute for effective leadership and yet many CEO’s who have the opportunity to do so don’t or won’t. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube offer leaders a vehicle to communicate and influence in very personal and positive ways.
Social Leadership and Inspiration
As someone who runs a small company working with select clients, the opportunity to talk on this panel got me thinking about the ways I lead. I was surprised to realise that whilst I don’t always have the opportunity to lead many subordinates in traditional hierarchical, corporate leadership roles (and I am quite glad of that!), I lead in other ways. Practically everything I do from influencing and assisting clients, partners and associates to grow online, to sharing blog posts, to Tweeting valuable content, to mentoring other women and to speaking and teaching, is intended to unfluence and inspire others in positive ways and for that opportunity I am grateful.