Some people are social, some people are less social. There is a lot of chatter about all leaders having rock star participation in social media. But there are a lot of smart people who have vision, without social skills. Think of all the hacker introverts. They think, design, and build concepts. Aren’t they leaders too? Yes, in their own way. (In my opinion, you build a team with social and visionary leaders – elevate the collective intelligence of the team. Guess I also think a team is comprised of leaders – a flat hierarchy. A leader’s role is defined by his or her strengths.)
Some gripes I have about this rally cry that everything must be social:
There are elements of a popularity contest. Gaining attention in social media requires posturing. Those who have a large number of followers exert significant influence. Some of these influencers do not necessarily have the best idea or insights, but are highly likeable. Popularity is valuable. Good ideas are valuable.
‘Being social’ is a time consuming process. It requires finding content, networking, conversing, etc.. Building an audience takes many years of hard work. Is ‘being social’ always worth the investment in time and resources? Spend time where you make the biggest ROI for the company.
Status still has a major impact on how content is consumed. ‘Rock stars’ in social media have high Klout scores; some companies are willing to pay them to endorse their products. It can be frustrating to get your ideas out because of the competition for an audience. Leave broadcasting ideas to those who are skilled at making an impact with an audience.
I do think there are aspects of social that are good for all of us.
Building connections and relationships is nurturing. Obviously, this is huge. Social media facilitates the process of building and maintaining relationships; of course, some are deeper than others. It can be reaffirming when your connections share a similar sentiment.
Getting a personal boost (nudge) when you need it. You can jump on social media at any time of the day and immediately participate in a conversation or chat.
It is exhilarating when you get engagement from an audience. This is true especially when you are the primary source of the content. A back and forth conversation nailing down a concept collectively is also rewarding.
You can build a network from scratch and reach an audience (if you want to). Social media is a platform to get your ideas out to a target audience.
In a recent HBR article From the Knowledge Economy to the Human Economy, the author talks about how companies must commit to humanity. Yes a valid point, we should embrace being social and connected – what makes us human. Still we must continue investing in deep and critical thinking. Otherwise, we might fall into the trap of following the herd and disregard the necessary thinking to truly evolve in a meaningful way (which also contributes to humanity). Moving forward is not all about being social and gaining consensus, it’s also about improving ideas.