A new breed of leadership is rising. Traditional leadership is entering a diminishing state with the proliferation of social media. The once, ‘natural born leader’, and those who have been skilled through years of development and experience is losing followership as ‘social’ creates our next generation or connected leaders.
The choice of ‘who to follow’, established a new dimension, working, in most cases, against traditional leadership models. Connected consumers and employees alike, are taking over the reins of organisational leadership, and are using social networks to influence and steer organisations in directions decided by the ‘crowds’, creating a new paradigm in leadership, which, I like to call “crowd leadership”.
Crowd leadership refers to the direct and indirect influence created in terms of a brand’s perception, marketing, product line, services, trust, etc. by an online community, employees, or groups of consumers through the social networks they use to connect.
Around 40% of the world’s 7.2 billion people have internet access and, 74% of these are adults that use social media sites in some way influence the way organisations perform, either in the experience provided, the products and services offered, and ultimately the impact on the bottom line. As a result, the klout of traditional organisational leaders are diminishing due to ignorance of this connected generation, labelled as Generation C, which has no upper and lower age limitations, and includes Gen-Y, Gen-X and Millennials alike.
Leading from the bottom up is trending in today’s organisations as social networks allow employees, and consumers, direct access to corporate leaders, not only to those of their own organisation, but across the industry they function in, defying the bureaucratic culture instilled by organisational structures and leaders, not authentic to their own and organisational values.
Generation C wíll lead organisations. Either their own, as employees via social networks, or competitor organisations in the market as connected consumers. Through their connectedness they volunteer their skills and expertise suppressed by traditional leaders in their own organisations, in a time when it is most difficult to acquire and retain top talent.
The good news in all of this, is that consumers and individuals will not steer organisations outside its boundaries of the core values of its brand, if leaders are authentic to the values thereof. This alone should force organisations to move away from value and mission statements built on buzz words and concepts that most leadership teams inherited over time or do not subscribe to.
‘Crowd leadership’ will happen, and the transformation of leadership is the next step towards the complete socialization of business. Customer and employee experience will drive crowd leadership to a point where it could be measured by engagement and experience metrics both inside and outside the organisation.
Trust is becoming a currency. For organisations and their leaders to survive this transformation, they will have to adopt new levels of trust that extends beyond their traditional cultures of employee favouritism and self-centeredness.