In a recent blog on Harvard Business Review, Jodi Glickman notes that young adults in the workplace are abandoning emails and moving toward social media as one of their primary modes of communication, Because social media is so, well, social, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between business and personal matters.
As an older American of 55 years, I was a later adopter to the blogosphere and Facebook, but I was an earlier adopter to Twitter. I guess there was something appealing to me about communicating in 140 characters or less. Like Glickman notes in her blog, I have learned some key lessons from this relatively new social phenomenon.
The Lines Between Personal and Work Are Blurring
Because I tweet, blog, and post on Facebook, some aspects of my business life and personal life are known to thousands. I’ve seen the advantage of sharing comments about my life with others. Some enjoy my strange humor. Others pray for needs I share. And still others see a personal side to the ministry I lead that they would not see otherwise.
Negatively, I can’t take true getaway vacations or time off anymore. One critic found me on vacation recently via Twitter. My vacation, as a consequence, was not nearly as enjoyable as I had hoped. I know. I can disengage from all social media for a week or so and not be subject to its omnipresence. But it has become so much a part of my life that I find its absence to be disconcerting.
We really don’t get away from work when we leave our workplace. Likewise, because of social media, we typically bring our personal lives to work. Leaders can either bemoan this new reality or they can learn to lead within this context. But don’t expect the young adults in your organization to disengage from the social media when they come to work.
Relationships Are Always Important
If we leaders can learn one thing from the social media, it’s the importance of relationships. The leaders who try to operate from a non-relational grid are doomed to failure. Organizations that try to increase customers and clients without relational intentionality will not survive. Churches that seek to reach people with the gospel will struggle unless its members are developing relationships with others. On Twitter we have followers. On Facebook we have friends. In all aspects of social media, relationships are king.
By the way, the relational issue is important for the leader personally as well. Every leader needs a good and trusted friend. All leaders need someone with whom they can confide and vent. Lone Ranger leadership is fast becoming an oxymoron.
Collaboration is Critical
It is absolutely amazing how social media is literally changing the world. Every day we hear about governments toppling and dictators being deposed. The despotic leader can no longer control the flow of information, so his power is stripped and his position removed.
Great leaders today are learning that the solo voice no longer works. The power of the group is usurping the power of the individual. Social media is the collaboration of hearts and minds. Many have a voice. Many have been empowered. The wise leader knows that he or she does not have all the answers. Collaboration and teamwork are essential. Good listening skills have become a hallmark of great leadership.
Change or Die
I know someone who was told by his physician that he could change his lifestyle and live many more years. If he chose not to change, he probably would not survive any longer than two or three years. The choice was clear: change or die.
Many organizations and leaders are faced with the same choice: change or die. Sadly, many are choosing the latter. Rather than make needed changes, they would rather hang on just a little while longer and then die.
If the world of social media has taught us anything, it has taught us that change is coming at us with increasing frequency. We have the choice. We can complain and yearn for the mythical good old days. Or we can embrace the best of the change that is taking place. I, for one, am glad for the advent of social media. I choose to learn from it and make the best of it.
I have already learned some important lessons, but I know I have many to go. It will be fun and exciting to see what happens next.