Digging deep into social leadership

What does social leadership look like?  I have been reflecting on my experience at the #socialagesafari a few weeks ago.  People from different backgrounds came together on a quest to deconstruct the term and untangle the elements.  It was incredible to meet face to face, people that I have previously met through serendipity on twitter and share experiences of social age learning.

I came to listen, share my story of international, national and local communities and learn from others.  Over the last year there has been an exploration of hacks and sprints in the Horizons team within the National Health Service.  We have led them, facilitated for others and shared our narrative of transformational change.   The first day at the safari was different as I fully immersed myself in the experience of being a participant, letting the waves of learning crash over me and challenge my perceptions of social age leadership.

To be honest, my aim was also to understand how other people run hacks and sprints listen to the conversation and watch how people use social media.  For an extrovert, my interaction during the day has been unusual.  My normal mode would be to tweet from the event capturing everything going on to share with a wider audience.  Working out loud through my twitter feed and sharing the key points from the day.  The first day I was introverted, observing others and saved my energy for the two day sprint.  Flipping my usual preference in behaviour to a polar opposite was a unique experience.  So what did I learn?

New terminology is a key area for discussion and misunderstanding.  Social age leadership is a great example.   This graphic by @gapingvoid sums up our group work around this term.


Our hack groups debated the essence of social leadership.  Is it about the tech or is it about how the individual uses their leadership and communication skills aided by technology.  The discussions could become about specific platforms such as twitter, facebook, yammer, instagram you name it, we probably talked about it.

Being introverted for a day was fun.  I could take part in the groups, but it felt very different.

The community of the safari came together to produce a newspaper several times a day.


This focused people’s reflections and learning from the event.  It gave urgency and meaning to the time we were together.  It made people stop procrastinating and start writing about subjects they were passionate about now and potential subjects for future blogs.   There was even a press office which diligently put the copy together led by @lauramalarkey.   I loved this element as I saw faces of concentration working on their copy for the day and was amazed at the creativity taking place.

So do I have an answer for – What is social leadership?  I have my view that it’s not about the tech but what you do with it!  Today’s Facebook may well be a distant memory in the future, a bit like Friends reunited is today.  Therefore, whatever tech we use will help us to be great social leaders by essentially going back to basics and telling better stories that people can believe in. leadership leadership



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