As written and discussed previously, there is a global insurgence against almost any form of “establishment” – political, economic and social – you name it. It is in our nature as individuals that when some system or approach malfunctions we start asking questions, either to blame or to find solutions. This practice is projected on to a broader level inside the society of which we are part.
In business the “employee” is asking questions of senior management. In politics the voter is asking serious questions of their elected leaders who seem to move ever so slowly at delivering on expectations.
Rich Simmonds, a change agent and “rule breaker” with just under 500k twitter followers added: “The establishment is definitely under threat. There is a new way of thinking about where it is going. We have kept the establishment as it is for too long. Over and above this, as a person one has a natural inclination to challenge the status quo. As soon as there are too many of the collective that become part of the status quo – being in the same box – the natural need of the person to be unique and different, pushes for change.”
How do leaders deal with this siege on the status quo or establishment? What kind of leader should one be in order to more than survive in an environment of interconnectedness, where the follower can, more than ever before in history, hold their leader accountable? As I tweeted recently:
“Know this, through social media your followers will hold you accountable! Be real, open, and transparent.”
Ellis Mnyandu said: “I think social media presents us with an opportunity to have part of these conversations that haven’t happened, but I think it would be tragic to have superficial conversations, we can’t do that because it would mean we are just wiping things under the carpet.” Adding to this is another quote by Eric Qualman: “The power of social media is that it forces necessary change.” And also by Ian Somerhalder: “Social media is changing the world, and we’re all here witnessing it.” Is the answer to stay away from social media, avoiding it like a plague, as we see some CEO’s of businesses do? Is the answer to embrace social media cautiously, or boldly?
Let us practically describe the new leader who will not just survive but soar in this new world; who will not one moment fight the establishment and then upon taking over get sucked into it, become part of it.
The new leader is someone that:
- is real and authentic.
- is open and transparent because this is what the interconnected world of social media represents.
- believes in accountability of the highest order – holding his/her own people accountable as well as him/her self.
- believes a leader is always a follower at the same time. No-one on this planet is a leader only; one is always a follower at the same time.
- is on top of social media and therefore embraces the interconnectedness of our society.
- is connected to the follower, constantly – social media helps, but it’s not the only way.
- is in favour of and practices open, frank and intelligent conversations, even rigorous debate where ideas and principles that survive it stand a better chance of success.
- believes everything is always up for renewal.
- believes that structure (resources, systems, procedures) serves direction and aspirations, not the other way around. When aspirations (vision) and strategy serves structure, bureaucracy is born!
- is humble and teachable – willing to learn and accept “I don’t know everything, especially in today’s world”.
- honestly loves what he/she is doing. A leader that fakes their way through the days, having little passion, will be caught out.
- is an enabler – freeing people up to be the best they can be; getting rid of obstacles that stop them from creating much needed movement.
- is highly responsive – reacts speedily to whatever happens out there; not waiting for the next event or formal occasion to explain him/herself.
- is a proactive communicator – knows what is happening on the ground and reacts proactively, not reactively.
Rich Simmonds ended with this message to leaders: “Just do what you are supposed to do; what is best for you and your followers.” It comes full circle to being authentic, honest and true to oneself and ones followers. Listen to the conversation with Louis Groenewald, Ellis Mnyandu and Rich Simmonds here.
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Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on firstname.lastname@example.org for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.