Mike Hanbery May 31, 2018

Social Leadership Strategies for Today’s Executive

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In May 2018, executives gathered for a Webolutions Executive Roundtable to connect and share insights around social leadership strategies. With an increasingly connected world – from internal culture to community responsibility – navigating and effectively executing social leadership roles has become an essential skill for executives.

Social Leadership comes to light for executives when they:

  • Set the vision and inspire their organizations.
  • Serve as “faces” or “voices” of their organizations, in person and on social media.
  • Assume profile roles in the business community, as an alumnus, serve on industry committees or advisory boards.
  • Enable and inspire their employees.

The overall tone of the discussion was positive. Whereas some topics generate conversation around challenges and frustration, this group was largely proud, optimistic, and eager to share their approaches, progress, and challenges overcome.

Communication, Communication, Communication

In a digital age with fierce and open competition for dollars and talent, “location” may have competition for importance in marketing. Attending executives placed high importance on optimizing communications with their staff. Tactics included:

  • Two organizations, including Webolutions, require all employees to complete a Strengths Finder This assessment illuminates preferred communication styles, enabling colleagues to adapt their approach from individual to individual. (Webolutions team members even place our key strengths on our website bios.)
  • Discussion included the time, risk, and frustration minimized when time was spent to construct multiple emails to communicate the same thing to different audiences. Examples included a construction company with frequent needs to simultaneously update CXO’s, who only want to hear what time it is; and engineers, who need to build the clock.
  • One company represented mandates a once-per-week common lunch break, in which the entire organization eats together. At these lunches, agendas and shop talk are prohibited, forcing people to get to know each other beyond goals and deadlines.


Employee Development

Employee development means pulling people into discomfort, asking them to do things they might not believe they can. For one attending CEO, this includes asking introvert employees to engage directly with clients, especially on delicate issues.

Believing goal-orientation can be habit forming, one represented company provides cash incentives to employees who achieve personal goals, such as weight loss, smoking cessation, or community service.

Visual reminders can help. “Grit” is a notion currently embraced by one company represented at the roundtable. Employees who exhibit “grit” receive recognition and t-shirts.

Executive Interaction

Some in attendance bring field employees into executive meetings to gain and offer perspective. Goals included providing a strategic perspective to people who think and work tactically.

Discussion also included:

  • Efforts to embrace younger executives, or new employees from different companies or verticals
  • The importance of “real time” feedback, and of including positive achievements and characteristics when delivering critical or constructive comments.

Tools for the Toolbox

Webolutions Executive Roundtables always provide excellent adds for your reading list. Two books recommended by attendees were:

  • The Advantage – Summary http://markconner.typepad.com/files/the_advantage.online.pdf
  • Leaders Eat Last https://www.meaningfulhq.com/leaders-eat-last.html

Social Leadership in the Community

Is it better to reward individuals or to align the company with a singular cause or organization? Neither roundtable formed a consensus. One company gives three days off each year for individual volunteerism; another mandates engagement with industry-associated charities. Some cited difficulty in coordinating schedules and intruding on personal time. A larger firm noted the newer members of their workforce were eager to participate, and may have won battles for talent in part because of the emphasis placed on community involvement.

Do you know executives for whom a Webolutions Executive Roundtable would be a positive experience, whose perspectives would be valuable for our attendees? Please refer them by completing this brief form or sign up for our next event.

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