Leading in a socially-charged landscape

November 2, 2015
in Leadership
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Social media technology and instantaneous access to limitless information have made a profound impact on leadership in recent years. Organizations in every industry—including financial services—have witnessed a seismic shift in the way a leader can and should engage with their employees, customers, and members.

“Leaders of the future must create the conditions within organizations that draw out creativity, passion and purpose within a team and focus that in a strategic direction,” says Shawn Neumann, chair of First West Credit Union’s board of directors, and CEO and founder of Domain7 Solutions Inc., an Abbotsford-based Internet solutions company. “It is a very different and dynamic environment than what leaders may have experienced 10 years ago.”

Neumann is referring to leadership models of the past where the head of an organization was “the expert of all experts” and the organization relied on that as its competitive advantage. In the advent of social technologies, that reality has shifted because knowledge is now cheap and accessible.

“Think about buying a car. When you go to the dealership, it’s now technically possible for you to know more about the car than the salesperson, because you can conduct your own in-depth research,” Neumann says. “This reality means that a leader is no longer the expert and now needs to find another way to build organizational strength.”

For organizations to be successful in today’s marketplace and sustain success into the future, Neumann argues that competitive advantage is gained or lost on a leader’s ability to create meaning and trust.

“It takes a humanized leader to create the conditions in which people are able to operate in a fashion where they opt into tasks and challenges, volunteer to get stuff done, own their problems, make courageous decisions and challenge themselves and others in the organization,” says Neumann.

The pressures on leaders in every industry, from financial services to non-profits, in this new business model have never been greater. At the same time, this reality presents a tremendous opportunity to motivate and engage stakeholders—employees, customers, and members—in a way that leaders couldn’t a decade ago. Connection and engagement are the key to relevance and leaders and their organizations who seize that opportunity will be successful in the future.

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