Saturday, September 26, 2009

Social Media and Leadership -- what's the impact?

Recently I've been spending a lot of time learning and investigating social media. Don't get me wrong. I've been in LinkedIn for a few years, in Facebook for the last two, and in Twitter for about a year. Recently I joined XeeSM, a social network site aggregator that allows me to have my sites in one place (more is planned for the site, so keep an eye on them). Needless to say, Social Media is here. Take a look at this YouTube video if you have doubts.

What does that mean for us leaders? It's hard enough being a leader face-to-face. Harder when using the phone and email to communicate with team members. But, now we have to deal with social media and its impact on our efforts? What kind of leadership presence can we project through these sites? Until now, most of these sites have been personal (that is, focused on one person) although many organizations have Facebook pages. How can we use Facebook and similar sites to help our efforts?

I see these sites as being able to allow leaders to build their personal, relational, and contextual leadership by sharing information about themselves, connecting with others, and explaining the context within which the team does its work. Properly done they may even be helpful in the inspirational aspects of leadership.

But, does that mean we "friend" everyone in our team to our Facebook page? Do we create a page just for the team? How about issues of external vs. internal access? If our team is internal to the organization, how to we set up such social networks? If both inside and outside, a Facebook or similar page may be better.

With no current project to use as context, my preference would be to set up a site for the team. Similar in a way to what organizations do currently with file sharing services (e.g., Sharepoint) but with more ability for people to post personal information. But that may not be the best approach. This is a new set of technologies. What do you think?

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