I've just listened to an interview with Sarah Walker-Smith - CEO Shakespeare Martineau by Michelle Cravill on her Leadership podcast, you can hear the interview here

Michelle raises a number of leadership maxims that I think we, as leaders, can all learn from.

1. The Need to have Purpose as an Organisation  

Sarah talks about the mistake that leaders make, which is  "top down" purpose, she argues that purpose that is shared by all.

The more purposible an organisation, the more motivated the people and better the results.  This state of "collective vision", is better for employees and customers.

It is Sarah's view that during Covid19 we need Purpose to pull us through this and I agree.

2. Being a Visible Leader

Sarah is also a visible leader using social technologies and she says 

"So you've got to bring your whole self into the job even more so now than you did. And I think social media gives me the chance to be even more authentic."

She goes on to say "social media really does allow me to be all of me the job and to allow some of that individuality personality, et cetera, come into it as well. I think you can be better understood and understand others. And this is really important."

Michelle asks Sarah if leaders should be on-line and Sarah says

"So probably going to say something quite controversial here, but this is me. I think those leaders need to ask themselves if they're still really doing the right job, quite frankly."

Creating the Right Kind of Urgency to Bring About Change

New Ways of Working

I run a podcast called #TimTalks where I interview interesting people. I interviewed Mike Klein the talk is here.

In it, he says some interesting things about the new way of working and how to bring about change in a post-covid_19 world.  Let's start with some basics.

1.  Everybody Needs Network at Work

This isn't a revelation, we have all needed a network to get things done.  In the past you walked down the corridor, you took people for coffees.  Of course you can send emails, but in any large organization, getting action is another thing.

2. Everybody needs a Personal Brand

Having a personal brand at work has always been important.  Put it another way, do you have a great reputation?  The the companies that I have worked at being know as a "winner" was the best way to get resource on your opportunities.

3. Using Social is Now Business as Usual (BaU)

Most of us over the last three months have got used to using Zoom, Teams and Slack.

The only emails I get now are from spammers and from external organisations, we, like most companies, have moved to social to communicate.

In fact, Mike talks about "employees expect a culture of social interplay - sharing - creating and sharing with each other."  I agree.

Here at DLA Ignite, it's natural to use social (we use Slack). We don't turn to email to communicate (internally), we turn to social.  We have all of our Associates and Partners on the same Slack install so we act and form as a global business.  Allowing us to collaborate across country, boundaries and business.  This means we are able to service our global clients.  But let's talk about the impact of Covid-19 on employees.

4. What About New Starters?

In the past, a new starter would come into the office for a day, you would be introduced to everybody and shake their hands.  You wouldn't remember anybodies name, but at least you would be introduced.  This is how you started building your personal brand and your network.

A company may have 3 sites all with 1,000 staff each.  Now everybody works from home a business would have 3,000 sites.

How as a leader do you manage all these people? And how as a new starter do you build a personal brand, build a network and how do you start collaborating?

Many forward thinking companies have "buddies" and support "communities" but they tend to be focused on face-to-face interactions.

The Networked (Digital) Leader

I've been in sales a few years now, started cold calling and sending letters and then sent emails when email took off. I wrote my first book "Social Selling - techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers"  where I put forward the position what I could see in the sales community that buyers were now on social networks. You could contact them, within reason and sell stuff.

Things seem to have accelerated.

In this article by Dion Hinchcliffe he states 

"It is a remarkable time in this particular moment in human history, where most organizations have become almost entirely distributed, yet for the first time still remain largely functional."

In other words, we are all working remotely; we have all got used to it; and work (and life) still goes on.

We, are, all of us, buyers and sellers, as Dion would say "living through a wifi connection".

At my last company we ran the business on social and it was an eye opener.  With email people can look busy, with social you can see who is and who is not contributing to the business. 

We All have Network Leadership Skills Now

The last few months has required us to learn "network leadership". 

Where as, you used to "wonder down the corridor" to see somebody, you now communicate with a colleague through a social network.  Switching that around, there are leaders leaving their Zoom links open, should somebody want to drop by.  Instead of my office door is always open, my Zoom link is always open. 

A number of organisations are using video to send messages.  Whereas, before Covid_19 you would have "stuck your head around a door" now people send 2 minute videos.  We have a client, whose sales people send 2 minute videos as to what they have done that week.  You get the information you need, it saves time and is more efficient.  The Coronavirus is driving cost out of a business and making it a better place to work.

At my last organisation, we used social networks to enable maternity returners to contribute quicker, to get new starters to contribute quicker, to increase efficiency of current employees by 25%.  All ways that social and network leadership enabled us to increase efficiency, strip out cost and provide better working conditions.  I make no apology that those case studies will have a business $ contribution, but that was how the management thought and how we could prove business impact.

We can all see that now in our Covid19 world, we can also see the mental health benefits and the employee experience benefits.

The Connected (Digital) Leader 

Network leadership is now a work reality, we need to grow the skill and Sarah is a great example of somebody who is leading from the front.  How else do organisations change if the leaders don't lead?

Employees want change, they want to work work for a company that has a clear purpose and is looking after its employees as well as the environment around us.

If you want to create change as a leader it is no longer about standing on the roof and shouting follow me.  We have headphones on anyway. :)  The days of the "All hands call" have long gone.

Employees are looking for their leaders to be visible, not on email but on (internal and external) social. They want to be proud of the externally facing leader, who isn't some corporate robot but shares their experiences, their accomplishments and failures.

For many of this, if not all of us, this does not come naturally, but if leadership was easy, everybody would be doing it.

If you like anything in this blog and fancy a chat sometime you can contact me here