Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Social Media Leaders Best to Follow Greenleaf’s Model

Is it surprising bloggers offer advice on how to use the medium? Some focus on promotion but others focus on maintaining/protecting our reputations. Much of the advice is framed as rules of etiquette. Corporations like IBM have developed clear policies. They seek to protect themselves and possibly their employees by offering wisdom to follow.

Others have said that common sense is all that is needed. Common sense may keep you out of trouble most of the time, but it will not help you accomplish your goals. Why are you online connecting with others? If it is for fun, then common sense may be enough. (If you have common sense)

Most lists are focused on what not to do:

How to get along?
The rules
The full guide

What would change if we focused on how we should be?

I prefer to use Larry Spears’s summary of Robert Greenleaf’s servant leadership characteristics as my policy for the use of social media/ social computing/ web 2.0. The list can extend to much more than social media but it operates well in that venue.

Larry C. Spears – Characteristics of Servant Leadership (Summary of Robert Greenleaf’s work)
1.    Listening
2.    Has empathy
3.    Is able to promote healing
4.    Awareness (self aware)
5.    Persuasion
6.    Conceptualization – “dream great dreams”
7.    Foresight – see likely outcome of situations
8.    Stewardship – hold institution in trust for the greater good of society
9.    Commitment to growth of people – they have intrinsic value
10.  Building community

“All that is needed to rebuild community as a viable life form for large numbers of people is for enough servant-leaders to show the way, not by mass movements, but by each servant-leader demonstrating his own unlimited liability for a quite specific community-related group.”

Robert Greenleaf

What do you think?


Leave a comment

Filed under Communications, Leadership

Social Media – How do we lead? Finding wisdom from other disciplines

I am looking at the community development crowd for some wisdom on how we can be more intentional with the use of social media in our role as leaders. Recently, I finished reading a great book by community development guru Peter Block “Community, The Structure of Belonging.” For those who are responsible for  corporate communications function or are planning to implement social media strategies, I would strongly recommend boning up on community development fundamentals. Peter offers a great summation and a practical approach to bringing people together for a purpose. peter-block2

To outline the case for his leadership approach and applying it to social media, I think of Don Shula’s words “A river without banks is a large puddle.” Shula’s words imply the need for context and a planning. I suggest that with the collaborative nature of social media, planning should follow the community development model where you involve key stakeholders throughout the process.  The end result will be a more effective social media strategies, where your stakeholders have a high degree of ownership in your collective success.

Peter’s approach to community development linked with social media tools can be the process and structure to create customer loyalty and sense of belonging that, at one time, we would only dream of. The role of the professional communicator may become one of community facilitator and guide. We will be the ears, the coach, and the platform developer, the reporter and then model the way.

Brian Solis has depicted the communicator as community manager in this blog post. He sees the communicator as the orchestrator bringing together the many disparate functions of the communication community.

Below are a few ideas, concepts and thoughts that I found useful when designing social media programs. What do you think?

Peter Block – Community, The Structure of Belonging (p177 – 186)


  • Transform isolation into connectedness
  • Creating a future distinct from the past


  • Decide who should be in the room and what conversation should we have?
  • The small group is the unit of transformation
  • Context must be possibility, generosity, and gifts
  • Citizens are actors in the world
  • Commitments are better when made to peers and fellow citizens
  • Leaders and citizens should seek to bring the gifts of those on the margin into the center

Paradigm shift
“Citizens create leaders, children create parents, and audiences create the performance. This inversion may not be the whole truth, but it is useful.” (p.179)

Leader role:
1.    Shift context for gathering
2.    Frame the debate with questions
3.    Listen

Leave a comment

Filed under Communications

Employee engagement in economic downturns

Employee engagement offers new challenges in economic downturns.

During times of plenty (economic growth) – we have many people focused on entitlements (pay, rewards, training, etc). It is the me time.

During times of economic downturn – it is still a me time.
* The individual focus is on security.
* We become risk averse.
* Narratives of job loss create low innovation and a head down approach.
* Ownership and leadership can be diminished.

The great leadership task during both times is to get employees to focus on others and as a result focus on corporate (group) goals.
The need is to focus on great service and this can enable the focus to go past the individuals to others. In that state you can maintain engagement.

The key to addressing security needs:
* Lots of information.
* Explain how and why decisions are being made.
* Involve staff in decisions to increase the feeling of control.
* When employees are let go treat them with empathy and great care.
* Those employees who remain must know you care about them.

I rarely recommend Maslow’s hierarchy ,but right now it is a good model to reflect on. Maslow’s lower order needs are at risk in economic downturns. The higher order needs can supersede this challenge.

What is your experience?

1 Comment

Filed under Leadership

Best Practices for Associate/Employee Research

For more than a century researchers have been engaged in observing organizational processes. In the early 19th century the focus was on identifying the efficiency of process. Through this process it was realized that observing changed performance. This simple revelation has strongly influenced how and why we engage in measuring organizational dynamics today.

When we construct research processes the founding principle is that the research is a two way communication.  What we ask and how we ask it tells stakeholders what is important to us. The process has the power to create changes for the positive or the negative. Organizational research should encourage collecting valid evidence for decision making and recognize that the audience needs to understand what and why you are researching their activities.

Expected Data Benefits for Planning

  • Evaluates what works well
  • Provides evidence for what works and what might need to change
  • Informs planning process to make future decisions more effective

Dialogue Benefits of Research

  • Connects people across the organization – common understanding
  • Creates opportunities for feedback
  • Facilitates organizational dialogue on common strategic themes

Use Surveys Wisely

  • Employees value the ability to provide anonymous feedback.
  • Less enfranchised organizational members need communication opportunities.
  • “It is safe to say what you think around here” is consistently a low finding on employee surveys across all sectors

When Organizational Research is Done Poorly

  • Employees don’t think anything changed
  • Questions are not relevant to their immediate experience
  • Senior managers receive and use the results but the results do not impact the day-to-day life of the participants
  • People feel they gained a voice in decision making

When Organizational Research is Done Well

  • The results of the research can identify current strengths and challenges.
  • Each participant can focus and move towards a shared vision.

The Outcomes

Employees will be:

  • More satisfied,
  • Managers will have better information for making decisions, and
  • Employees and managers will have the means to check on collective progress.

Create the strategic frame:

  • The research communicates what is important to an organization.
  • What is asked and responded to creates a social contract.
  • The survey then sets the limits or boundaries for a creative and innovative discussion around continual improvement.

How Organizational Research Should be Done

•    Intent
•    Process
•    Results
•    Plans
•    Actions
•    Updates

  • Build a consistent process that is repeated
  • Enable others to use the findings
  • Teams, work units, divisions
  • Facilitate localized conversations to create experiential action

Helpful Quotes

  • Anyone conducting an organizational survey should appreciate that the very act of surveying itself influences attitudes (Walters, 2002)
  • Publicly demonstrating the steps taken to achieve the plan – will impact employees’ perceptions of trust (Gibbons, 2006)
  • The process can tell employees you care about their issues and that you are willing to do something about these issues (Church & Oliver, 2006)
  • With raised expectations, the importance of action exceeds that of the feedback itself (Kraut, 2006)

Leave a comment

Filed under Employee Surveys