Social Leadership

New headshot
“Who is Timothy?” Fair question.

Last week I was greatly humbled by blogger and thinker Julian Stodd when Julian wrote and reflected in “Who is Timothy?” Julian and I have never met in person, but are connected through social media. I have found much of Julian’s thoughts, reflections and questions over the past couple of years thought provoking and helpful for my own thought. So, thank you Julian for last week’s post, and please allow me to return the favor. Also, if you don’t yet follow Julian’s blog, please start following it!

I want to share a few thoughts in building off of that post by Julian. Each Tuesday I offer a regular post called, “This Week’s Links.” This began almost two years ago now as an idea and way to share some of the things I found interesting in the preceding week. I didn’t know how long I would continue this practice, but as I do so, I have discovered that it has been one of the more appreciated things I offer on this blog. Julian is right when he says it is an act of “curation, interpretation and sense making.” I like to share. It’s part of my stewardship. But on a self-serving side, sharing all of these pieces like this, allows me to find them in the future for further work or research.

Julian writes and reflects frequently on “social leadership.” I haven’t written much in this area necessarily, though I do offer thoughts about leadership and leadership perspectives. To make some sense out of this though, consider what Julian wrote:

“Timothy and i are not the same: his worldview and mine are not the same. We may be aligned in values, aligned by curiosity, aligned in our intent, but our specific views on a given article or situation may not be the same. Which is the value of community: diversity of thought, diversity of perspective, diversity of opinion. But united in shared values and shared purpose. In this case, our shared values are around curiosity and making sense of the world.”

connective leadership book
In some ways this idea of social leadership is like the concept of Connective Leadership discerned and coined by my professor, mentor and friend Dr. Jean Lipman-Blumen

Leadership for me involves bringing a diversity of perspective to the table. This is community, true, but good leadership intentionally seeks out diversity in order to be able to have the widest vision, buy-in, and deepest connection. Leadership is not about bringing people who are all alike or think alike around the same table. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The only way for innovation and new ideas to occur, are for them to be challenged by different perspectives and ways of thinking and doing things. I deeply believe this is imperative for the sake of the common good. (However you may define that term.)

In thinking specifically about social leadership, Julian lifts up the idea of “co-creation.” This is collaboration at its finest. Even when we may not set out to intentionally work together, through the sharing of ideas and questions we are in essence not only collaborating together, but also creating and sharing.

To share one’s story is risky. It takes courage. But it also invites participation. This is a true benefit of our social age that we live in, with the means to more easily share our stories across time and space through blogs and social media. Julian puts it well by noting about this, “Loose social ties across vast distances: united by interests. Unafraid to share our stories.”

In this Social Age, our thoughts and ideas are shared and connected with others. They are processed, questioned, put into practice, remixed and interpreted. This has hopefully been the case with all thought throughout history. It just so happens that in today’s world, through the access we have, we are able to go through this process a lot quicker through instantaneous posting and sharing.

Social Leadership for me then, is reflective especially of three things:

  1. A willingness to share.
  2. A desire to be connected, and part of something bigger than ourselves.
  3. A desire to learn and grow.

Social leadership for me is not about just putting information out there, or selling and marketing. Rather, it is about a desire to as Julian puts it, “co-create,” and learn together for the sake of the larger world we live in.

What do you think? What does social leadership mean to you? What might it look like? 

5 thoughts on “Social Leadership

  1. Never thought of something called social leadership. You have gotten me thinking. I think that I might like the book on Connective Leadership.

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Diane, I think you would love that book! It’s one of my absolute favorites within the leadership spectrum. As for the concept of social leadership, check out more of Julian Stodd’s blog to learn more.

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