We ran a video interview a few months back with my good friend Ted Coiné, where he outlines a number of great reasons why as a leader you should be increasing your social activity, and how the landscape is evolving. He mentioned how social leadership is the new thought leadership, and how social leadership sets you apart from other senior level job candidates as a way of presenting your personal brand, demonstrating your expertise and building meaningful relationships.

In this article, I would like to look a bit further into social leadership as a style in itself. How much do you know about social leadership, and why should you care? Simply, the environment is changing around senior level roles insomuch that social/thought leadership is not only an asset, it is expected from a leadership team in many cases.

What’s a Social Leader?

Meghan Biro talk about the 7 characteristics of a social leadership in a Forbes article here, and covers areas around communication, collaboration, education, engagement, monitoring, maximization and lastly but not least, enjoyment. She sums up this enjoyment factor thus:

Great leaders and great employees love what they do. Coming to work is coming to play. Of course, there are days (weeks, months) that are stress fests, tension conventions, hell’s bells, but the more you enjoy what you do, the better you will be at. And social media is a wicked (that’s Boston slang that I rarely use) blast. It connects us, gives us a chance to be our best selves in a public forum, is a stage to express our individuality and sense of humor, and is just a flat-out fabulous work tool if you take a chance on it.

There is a small caveat to the above. I have found that in practical terms there are industries out there where engaging in social – and thus influencing social leadership –  is actively frowned on. Courses are run in-house describing the dangers of social media. This is of course to do with security, and in these sectors we always advocate being careful, but still addressing the issue (during a job search in particular) of getting your name across more peoples ‘radar’; social and thought leadership activities are great for this.

Social and Digital is a global trend

IBM knows the benefits of social leadership, and all that it means, illustrated in the image below:

ibm institute for business value - social business

The centre for social leadership however, defines social leadership in what could be described as loftier language (Submission, Oneness, Calling, Integral Education, Action, Liberty). It demonstrates though that there are differing views around the premise and definition of what makes a social leader. I do like the aspect of action here, which we find is vital to propelling senior level candidates (our clients) toward their next ideal role.

Whatever your views now regarding social leadership, and using social and digital methods during your job search, there are compelling reasons to move to a more social style, if you are not already doing so, which I will address now. But let me deal head on with the most common objection to engaging in social and thought leadership; time…

If only I had the time

Ahhh Time, ‘too busy’ et al. I have heard all of the excuses, sorry, reasons for not engaging in social and digital activities.

I fully realize that if let’s say you’re a CFO or CEO and year end is upon you that there are pragmatic priorities in a business. You may be swamped with auditors, or other very worthy reasons to let social activities slip. But to address the issue of time head on; we all choose our priorities to a certain extent, and I would ask you to bring that element of choice to bear; make the decision to prioritize social and digital, whether in a job search phase or whether engaged in the day to day running of a business engaging in social and digital can have very positive impacts on company reputation, personal stock, customer relations, and a whole host of other positive benefits.

In a job search context the benefits are also that you will be accessing the hidden jobs market, where 70% to 80% of the very best roles are. Being social and engaging in digital is a key way to appear on the radar of more hiring managers, recruiters, and company owners. So if you’re not engaging, you’re missing the best roles, and not to mention some great new connections and future friends and colleagues through social channels.

Time is the number one reason offered for not having engaged in social and digital, but a bit of digging often reveals that there is also an innate fear in many of us about putting our head ‘above the parapet’ (to summarise the dictionary definition: to be brave enough to state an opinion that might upset someone), a fear of being judged, criticized. I would put that fear to bed now. Not everyone will agree with your stance on leadership style, emotional intelligence in the workplace, board advisory skills or whatever experiences or tips that you want to share with readers, but you will find your own audience. The additional benefit is that you will start to build (business and/or job opportunity) relationships with like-minded individuals, who will already have a picture of you which goes far beyond that which is possible from viewing your CV/Resume.

How do we as a career coaching consultancy for senior executives address social leadership?

Well first of all, I would like to describe myself as engaging in social and digital regularly, and this is in my general intention style and natural personality as a facilitator and connector. As a company we try to walk the talk, and produce copious amounts of social and thought leadership content, which gets read across the globe. We’ve also collaborated with another good friend Jim Claussen, who’s extensive leadership coaching and social and digital knowledge has been directly translated into The Be Found aspect of our career coaching programmes. So we believe this is all so fundamental to the executive job search that we have decided to bring it front and centre of our coaching activities.

In a pure job search sense, I would not overlook interview skills development, networking and ‘self-selling’ skills, and indeed the CV/Resume as well as social media profiles such as (but not exclusively) LinkedIn, but I urge you to start to engage in social and digital activities today.

Set aside the time, create a regular protected time diary event, and over time you will see the benefits whether from the perspective of landing that new senior role, or developing your leadership style within your current role.

How to apply this to get results in your job search

We can show you the ‘how’, as far as the above is concerned. I’ll be happy to have a personal discussion with you about your job search strategy, so all you need to do is drop me a line at steve@executiveconnexions.com.