Leadership used to mean a powerful presence and the ability to inspire others. But today, in the age of collaboration and transparency, leadership is also about building trust among your team members. It means sharing your own vulnerabilities as well as demonstrating vulnerability by listening closely to others' ideas. And it’s not only about achieving results—it's about helping others achieve theirs.
My journey as a founder has led to me being in leadership positions for a variety of teams, and I’ve had to learn hard and fast just how much of an impact a leadership style can have on employees. The emotional and empathetic leadership style of a social leader focuses on building strong relationships within the team, which has a direct impact on their collaboration and communication skills.
With a focus on social leadership, I’ve learned that we can create a positive work environment by utilizing emotional intelligence to create trust and respect among employees.
What is Social Leadership?
Today's workforce is changing, and the traditional leader is being replaced by a new type – the social leader. The type of leadership we're talking about here doesn't rely on position or title; instead it's about emotional intelligence, relationship skills, and service-oriented behaviors. Leaders who lack these qualities will struggle to motivate their employees in today's workplace, where people are looking for meaning and purpose from their job.
Social leaders have a vision for where their company will go. They don't force their team members to follow orders, but instead listen and question people's methods to help them perfect their approach. As a social leader, you focus on the bigger picture and track all departments to know where you're heading as a company. You create a better tomorrow for yourself, your employees and customers.
What are the Characteristics of a Social Leader?
Dedication to the cause: All social leaders have a genuine desire to help others. They are willing to invest in their community and give everything they have in order to make a difference. They also tend to be motivators, who inspire others with their passion for their work.
Successful social leaders exhibit some common characteristics.
They care. Social leaders are focused on the people around them. They create an environment where employees feel valued and supported. A great social leader has a strong desire to help others succeed, while also helping their business achieve its goals.
They communicate. Social leaders know that great communication is vital to driving engagement, and therefore, the success of their team. They are excellent communicators and are able to build rapport with their team members. They know how to separate important topics from non-essential ones and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
They collaborate. While your team may come from different backgrounds and cultures, we all share the goal of doing great work. Without teamwork, our efforts would not be possible. Social leaders know the importance of teamwork and are always looking for ways to improve team dynamics. They understand that no one is an island and know how to get the best out of their team by working together.
They’re self-aware. As a social leader, you know that what you do determines the people you lead and the culture of your team. In order to understand and develop yourself in an ongoing way, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Managers who are serious about growing their leadership skills set aside time to ask themselves questions like, ‘What do I need to work on?’, ‘Is there someone else who can help me with this?’ and ‘Do I really want this job?’ It can be hard at first, but asking yourself these tough questions often leads to positive change!
They’re people-oriented. Social leaders see their business as a family, not merely a corporation. Because they focus on the people, not just tasks or goals, social leaders understand that strong relationships are the key to a successful team. They work hard to build trust and rapport with their employees so they can get great results from people who actually enjoy working together.
They’re vulnerable. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. While this might seem risky, it's actually a great way to build trust with your team. By being open and honest, you'll create a more open, honest working environment that allows for all ideas to be heard and understood.
Civil Discourse to Promote Social Leadership
Leading with civil discourse is a way to create open and informed dialogue. It allows for candid discussions, which support innovative thinking and acceptance. It ensures that everyone can be heard.
Social leaders can leverage the tenets of civil discourse to promote their leadership style by:
- Actively listening to all opinions before concluding.
- Acknowledging any resistance to ideas and understanding counterarguments.
- Respecting diverse opinions to achieve a common understanding.
- Trusting individuals with their unique creative processes.
- Approaching all matters with a positive mindset by fixating on the ultimate goal.
- Communicating emotions in a safe space without prejudices.
- Accepting criticism to expand their scope for improvement.
If you want to keep your team motivated and engaged, you need to help solve its conflicts in a civil manner. By practicing civil discourse, you can resolve just about anything and everything related to workflow and productivity.
The traditional workplace is on its way out. In today's market, social corporations are paving a new way forward with people-first leadership practices. These companies are built on the social skills that make their employees happy, productive, and innovative. Social leadership is the difference between an average workforce and a high-performance team.