Archive for December, 2007

Social Networking & Leadership Digest for December 17

Articles and posts that I found interesting keep piling up, and I thought listing them here could be a nice way to take them out of my to-do list. This time all come from the management bloggers at Harvard Business Online.

Charlene Li putting down the business value of social networking sites like Facebook. Firstly, business is social, and by staying on top of your network with help of social networking sites, you build the relationships which will likely benefit your business. Secondly, as the number of non-adolescent Facebook users grow, business-oriented applications are likely to appear. Finally, this is the medium to reach your customers, prospects and employees – and there are already numerous case studies in this area.

A contrary discussion point regarding the business value of social networking sites by Tom Davenport. Main argument to deny the business value of social networking is that companies are managed top down, and there is no place for employees to increase their power the way that consumers do via social networking.

Yet another critique on the business value of social networking via Tom Davenport – this time focused on the (lack of) usefulness of LinkedIn.

Gary Hamel reviews the design flows of bureaucratic organizations and shows how Enterprise 2.0 technologies can fix them. The article lists the key web-based solutions to old management problems:

  • A democracy of ideas
  • Distributing the tools of innovation
  • A market for judgement
  • An internal “band of angels”
  • Reverse accountability

The New Psychology of Leadership

If you have been exposed to some usual leadership models, you can probably quote several skills or personality traits of effective leaders. Such skills can include charismatic inspiration, initiative, technical skills and many others. In a Scientific American Mind article The New Psychology of Leadership, S. D. Reicher, M. J. Platow and S. A. Haslam argue that recent research in psychology calls for a different focus in defining effective leadership. Based on their approach, we can come up with several rules that can apply to leading efforts in a social networking environment.

Rule #1: Understand the values and opinions of the followers.

Strong leadership, based on the article, is a product of the relationship between leaders and followers within a social group, which calls for an understanding of the group psychology. The authors say that “leaders are most effective when they can induce followers to see themselves as group members and to see the group’s interest as their own interest”. Continue reading ‘The New Psychology of Leadership’

Leadership in Search of Happiness

food-in-africa.jpg

In an inspirational talk at TED conference, economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin points to the example of Kingdom of Bhutan measuring its economy in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product. This is a benchmark for her vision of Ethiopia – to make it a happy nation by eliminating hunger.

During her years of research in Africa’s agriculture and economy, Eleni Gabre-Madhin observed both farmers’ ability to produce crops, as well as structural inefficiencies of the market. Obstacles such as natural risks, unpredictable cycles of crop scarcity and abundance and poor infrastructure contribute to the lack of economic stability of African farmers and hamper food distribution across fertile and barren regions.

Drawing on examples from the Chicago Board of Trade and its followers, the speaker proposes a solution to the structural problems of Ethiopian agriculture. Her plan is to found a commodities market in Ethiopia, which should be adapted to the local circumstances. She has been able to convince the government to follow her plan by establishing trading systems, warehouses and data centers, and she strongly believes that farmers will be able to boost their economic performance under such conditions. In her own words, “change is in the air”. Continue reading ‘Leadership in Search of Happiness’

Defining Leadership

Gandhi at the Ferry building

John Paul II, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, Mother Theresa – all of them are considered as leaders. What qualifies a leader?

I don’t want to go through literature study at this point to analyze classic leadership definitions. Instead, I want to share my understanding of leadership to set clear the expectations for the content of this blog.

To me, leadership is about influencing people to contribute to a change, and as an effect, causing the change to happen.