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Social Media: Changing How Change Happens

The power of social media for change is being talked about and leveraged all over the place.

  • John Fontana's recent post on Network World highlights the value of "citizen" engagement, social media and web-based networking in the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.
  • Clay Shirky's recent book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations talks about how social media has removed or lessened many of the barriers to self-organizing (and in my thinking lessened the relevance of the nonprofit model so that many things can be accomplished with "adhocracies"). The book itself has a blog too, where readers are active commenters.
  • The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) and Beth Kanter are facilitating a wiki project to develop a social media curriculum specifically for nonprofits and change initiatives called Be the Media: The Social Media Empowerment Guide for Nonprofits.
  • And, over at NetSquared - Remixing the Web for Social Change, there's a veritable cornucopia of stories, examples and how-to's regarding social media and geared for nonprofits and change initiatives.

    Indeed, social media is changing how change happens. So what does this mean for leadership development - how programs are structured and supported, how are people recruited and selected, what's included in curriculum and how do we evaluate? My general instinct is that the term "leader" will be thought of as a fixed definition of a singular individual less and less. And we will talk more and more about leadership as a context-specific process exercised both by people and groups of people at different points in time. What is nonprofit leadership for 2020? What do you think?


Leadership and Social Media

Thanks for this post; I am fascinated by this topic.

Social media is dramatically changing how we work, build relationships, interact with one another, and finally, exercise leadership. The ease, speed, depth and breadth of communications today is a real game changer. The old command and control style is being seriously challenged by more collaborative leadership techniques and methods.

In addition to the great resources that you listed, I encourage you to check out Anna Farmery's podcast The Engaging Brand where she often deals with leadership and social media.

Thanks for the great work you do here at LLC!

Fair Winds,
Peter A. Mello
Sea-Fever Consulting LLC

Thanks, Peter!

This is an excellent resource, thanks for sharing it with us!

So as for the changes required in leadership, do you think that command and control will go away or that it will be one "style" of leadership that is at one end of a continuum of how we interact to get things done? Surprisingly some people (although I would guess not the majority) seem to like to be told what to do and when and how.

Leadership and Social Media

Hi Elissa;

Sorry for the delay in responding but I just returned from a family holiday in England.

Leadership is such a complex and fascinating topic. You are 100% correct that "some people seem to like to be told what to do and when and how" and depending on the circumstances that could include the majority. We often like our leaders to act this way since there is comfort in turning over the reigns and responsibility, and convenience in identifying a scapegoat when things don't go as we expect or want. Think of Presidential politics and the current appetite for change. I'm not sure that this will ever change, I think it's just human nature.

But in my lifetime organizational dynamics have changed dramatically and therefore work life has as well. The "company man" is nearly as extinct as the dodo; today we expect to work multiple jobs, and maybe even different careers, over our lifetime. There has been a huge shift between my generation and that of my parents and it continues with our children. Charles Handy predicted it years ago and Daniel Pink chronicled it in Free Agent Nation and more recently in The Adventures of Johnny Bunko.

In the past decade technology has changed the way we communicate and interact. Knowledge has always been power and still is, but today more people have access to it more quickly. I believe that this change in communication and distribution of information has profound impacts on how we lead and is a significant cause of increased collaborative styles of leadership. Command and control will not go away and we might easily identify it within the other styles. For instance, I might lead a project this month and gladly take direction next month. Heck, chances are I might not even be working with the same team members next project.

Like so many things it life, it all depends!

Fair Winds,
Peter A. Mello
Sea-Fever Consulting LLC