Compelling topics in leadership, technology, and social media

  • A business strategy is “the direction, positioning, scope, objectives, and competitive differentiation” of the business (Wollan, Smith, & Zhou, 2010). It is important and enables a business to learn from the business’ employees, customers, and partners (Li, 2010).
  • Organizational alignment is when business strategy meets business culture, where visions are aligned, and business goals and objectives should be drafted towards this business strategy (Richards-Gustafson, n.d.). Organizational alignment and its governance should be part of the business and social media strategic planning from the beginning (Zhu, 2012). For social media strategy creation efforts, best practices dictate to borrow heavily from their current IT strategies and governance processes (Wollan et al., 2010).
  • The definition of social media would change with time because social media is dependent on the technology and platforms that enable and facilitates a social connection (Cohen, 2011; Solis, 2010). The social connection from social media shifts content creation and delivery from a “one-to-many” model to a “many-to-many” model (Solis, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).
  • A social media platform is the technological infrastructure, platform, and software that allows a company or a person to produce and share content either internally to a selected group of people or externally to the entire world (Wollan et al., 2010).
  • The overall statement is true: “Emanating from the growing popularity of social media, consumers expect companies to be present on popular social media channels. As a consequence, companies can no longer maintain customer interactions solely by way of traditional channels.”
  • Social technologies can help drive tangible value for the company through: product development, knowledge sharing, increasing collaboration, operations and distribution, marketing and sales, customer service, business support, reduction in travel expenditures, reduction in costs, reduction in time it takes to complete a project, etc. (Li, 2010; Vellmure, n.d.; Wollan et al., 2010).
  • Social media helps shine a light exposing: hypocritical business policies, functions of a product/service, marketing, and sales; these issues must be solved relatively quickly, and that requires a social business strategy and resources (Wollan et al., 2010). Thus, there are a significant amount of resources that are needed to achieve any new social business strategies.  These resources should be accessible, such as training resources, best practice guidelines, in-house subject matter experts, and direct managers by all employees (Li, 2010).
  • Also, the power of a negative tweet (a social networking platform) can severely impact a company. This was the case when then President-elect Trump criticized both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, sending their stocks to plummet within minutes from that tweet (Kilgore, 2016; Lauby, 2010; Li, 2010).  Thus, mitigation of negative sentiment is becoming more prevalent for how a business that is operating in a world with social technology. Bughin et al. (2011), reported that social technology for customer purposes had increased effective marketing, customer satisfaction, and increased marketing cost savings.
  • Employee collaboration does not automatically increase within the organization when social technologies are set up because each employee has a different work style, ethic, values, and set of beliefs (Wollan et al., 2010). The organization must change the culture to embrace social technology, by having social technology champions to help bring the resisters into the fold (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).
  • According to Li (2010), the Open Leadership Style is the best style for implementing social media technologies.
  • Open Leadership Style: Has about five rules, which allow for respect and empowerment of the customers and employees, to consistently build trust, nurtures curiosity and humility, holding openness accountable, and allows for forgiving failures (Li, 2010).  It is not easy to “let it go,” but to grow into new opportunities, one must “let it go.”  This thought process is similar to knowledge sharing, if you share your knowledge, you will be able to “let it go” of your current tasks, such that you can focus on new and better opportunities. Open Leadership allows for one to build and nurture relationships with the customers and employees (Li, 2010).  It is customer and employee centered.
  • Situational Leadership Style: Is a style of leadership where the leader must continuously change their personal leadership style to meet the situation and needs of the employees/followers (Anthony, n.d.). The input of the employees/followers must come first regardless if the leader is a micro-manager, supervisor, coach, supportive, developer, or delegator. The leader would use: micro-manage if employees just need to do exactly what they are told; supervisor methods if employees are inexperienced; coaching if employees lack confidence/motivation; delegation if employees need little supervision; and developmental when the employees have high needs and little experience (Anthony, n.d.).
  • Autocratic Leadership Style: Is also known as authoritarian leadership, where the leader takes over everything and makes all decision with no input from the group (Cherry, 2016a). This is great for when quick decisions are needed, but it comes at a cost to the followers. That is because of Cherry (2016a), stated that decisions made in this style of leadership are absolute and the followers/employees are not trusted.  This feeling is felt and creates the illusion of the classic “control freak,” “bossy,” etc. trope on the leader.
  • Democratic Leadership Style: Is also known as participative leadership, where the employees/followers are a vital part of making the key decisions (Cherry, 2016b). This is the direct opposite of the Autocratic Leader.  Here ideas and opinions are championed, even if the leader remains the final arbitrator (Cherry, 2016b). Unfortunately, this style can be quite time intensive but could provide better results due to a diversity of thought.
  • Servant Leadership Style: The leader is considered a servant first to their employees/followers to allow them to grow, become healthier, wiser, freer, autonomous, and become servants themselves (Center for Servant Leadership, n.d.). The focus is on the growth of the employees/followers.  One way to accomplish growth is a leader sharing their power to help people develop, synonymous to caring for each other (Center for Servant Leadership, n.d.).
  • Laissez-faire Leadership Style: leaders allow employees/followers make their decisions, also known as delegation leaderships (Cherry, 2016c). Unfortunately, Cherry (2016c) points out that there is little guidance from leaders when it is most needed, or when there is a lack of knowledge. However, it does allow for the autonomy of the employees/followers and promotes problem-solving from them.


Achieving full benefit of social technologies through a culture of trust

“To achieve the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and non-hierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Creating a culture of trust is even difficult for organizations that have not implemented social technologies as well. Ultimately, the efficacy of social technologies hinges on the full participation of employees who are openly willing to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the social media technologies themselves.”

The most important element from the above premise statement is that creating a culture of trust is difficult and that social technology will fail or succeed based on trust of their contributions.  If there is no culture of trust, there will be no contributions to a social technology. Even if the tool is perfect, if no one uses the tool, it was just either a waste of money, waste of time, waste of messaging, or all of the above.

It is true that a culture of trust is more important in a highly collaborative environment powered by social technologies (Burg, 2013).  It is needed because this could be an avenue where ideas can be fully expressed to improve certain parts of the company, product, or service in a constructive and respectful discussed (Burg, 2013; Li, 2010; Vellmure, n.d.; Wollan, Smith, &Zhou, 2010).

However, establishing a culture is much hard than introducing a new piece of technology. There will always be naysayers and resistors to a new piece of social technology (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).  Even though people who are willing to share their thoughts and ideas are hoping that they can do so in a trusted environment, that their shared ideas are respected, and still have a job the next day.

The leadership style that is more conducive to creating an open culture based on mutually shared respect and trust would be either an open or democratic leadership style. Both the open and democratic leadership are heavy on team participation and are customer and employee centered (Cherry, 2016; Li, 2010).  Cherry (2016), describes that in democratic leadership styles the final decision comes down to the leader, whereas Li (2010) describes that the open leadership styles give more autonomy to the team.  Thus, both are more conducive to creating an open culture, but it depends on the current company culture and the willingness of leadership to give their employees full autonomy over social technology that defines which of these two cultures will prevail in the end.