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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s