In response to my post on the social media country club (perhaps ”fortress” would have been more apt?) many people agreed with the observations I made but also challenged, “what next?”
“We” can do nothing to influence the behavior of others except “unsubscribe,” which probably would not even be noticed. The only thing I/you can change about the situation is myself/yourself.
I need to hold a mirror up to my own community and figure out what I can change about my role and accountability to create an inclusive and safe environment that promotes connection without cronyism. I know you will come up with much better ideas, but here are my own thoughts on this tough question:
If I were an “A” List blogger, what behaviors would I adopt to try to facilitate dissent, inclusiveness, accessibility, and innovation?
Humility. First, I would never characterize myself as an “A” list anything. That’s the beginning of the trouble right there. This is probably easier said than done when your name is in lights. Remaining humble has to be a mindset and a daily objective. For me, it is an element of my spiritual journey. When you see yourself in the really big picture, you have to be humble.
Leadership. When I first became a “boss” many years ago, I remember participating in a brainstorming session and learning a week later that all of my raw ideas were in some phase of implementation. Why? Because I was in a position of authority and people thought they were carrying out my wishes. This made me uneasy. I longed to remain part of the team with my friends. But that was impossible. The way you act as a leader and the way you act as a follower is different. Leaders have to lead.
My impression is that some of the social media elite have not come to grips with this. After all, it’s at odds with the “authenticity” mantra, right? If you feel “snarky” why not BE “snarky?” It doesn’t work like that on this elevated level. You can get away with it when you have 65 followers but you can’t when you are a representative of the discipline and a role model for many … which is what you worked hard to achieve.
For me, I accept being the leader of a blog discussion and conducting the forum in a way that is respectful and inclusive. I need to try to be mindful that friendship and support are gifts, but undue favoritism is corrosive and disrespectful to those still finding their voice.
Discernment – One high-profile blogger works for a company that retains Chris Brogan. The person wrote a glowing review of “Trust Agents” on Amazon. Is this good business, devoted friendship, or a conflict of interest? You could successfully argue any of these positions, but the fact is that there could be at least an impression of impropriety. So I think a lesson and best practice is to avoid even an illusion of cronyism that could deteriorate trust and faith in me as a reliable and accessible leader.
A safety valve – I was really impacted by the fear people expressed in the comment section about disagreeing with the establishment. If I lose my way and start creating my own country club, how will I know? Who will tell me? As I become an authority figure to some, how do I help them still feel safe to dissent? The idea I’m considering is a place on the blog for anonymous feedback that would only go to me. Perhaps that would be a way to establish a mechanism where anybody could say anything and beat me down a peg or two when I need it. Need to think about that a little more.
OK, enough from the amateur. What do you think? What example should you and I set that would be a model for social web leadership?
P.S. I’m ready to lighten things up again. This stuff is too serious. Tomorrow I’m going to write about KISS. The band. Seriously.