Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Implementing a social networking strategy to drive effective green technology and sustainability – a practical guide, part 7

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 19, 2010

This is the seventh installment to an ongoing guide I have been posting on how to more effectively set up, grow and lead a goals-oriented social networking and community based initiative. I have written this more explicitly in terms of developing and locally implementing more effective Green technology and sustainability, but the basic principles I write of apply equally to a much wider range of goal-oriented, socially significant endeavors.

My most recent three postings in this have focused on specific functional areas that have to be effectively developed and managed:

Marketing and
• Fundraising – Part 1 and Part 2.

I am going shift gears here and look back at the basic organization itself and in how it is lead. And as I often do in this blog I want to start with the fundamentals.

It is the commonest perception of leadership that the senior-most executive officer of any business or organized group is the keeper of vision and strategy. I write of this in my own postings here and have written in detail along those lines in other venues as well. This approach definitely and fully applies in any top-down hierarchical organization where the most senior leader is and has to be the final arbiter and judge of strategy, in keeping the organization headed in the same direction. This type of leader has to take ownership of overall vision and should be a powerful and compelling spokesperson for that vision and its value.

Much of that applies in the context of more open organizations, and certainly where leaders take a leading role in organizing and conveying vision and agreed-upon strategy. But even in a more rigidly hierarchical and authoritarian organization, the leadership team looses incredible value if it is a team of one, and of one who denies the possibility that others could offer strategic input and insight too. In a more open organization as you find when you develop around social networks, this diversity of input simply becomes more pressing, more varied in type and scope and more important to include. So leaders in these organizations loose any semblance of having the option of simply deciding as if in a vacuum. Leadership becomes a much more populist political endeavor where listening is as important or more so that speaking, and where a leader’s role is significantly one of filtering and synthesizing a sharable mutually supportable vision that comes in significant measure through crowd sourcing.

I write that with a clear subtext message in mind and one that I express with the old adage that the devil is in the details. People do not always agree, or even to more amicably agree to disagree where they would at least respect each other’s rights to holding differing opinion. Even when rancor and disagreement are raging, and especially then – this is probably where you will find the most pressingly important issues requiring resolution, where decisions have to be made and policies set. Whoever leads such an organization needs skills in mediating and negotiating, and yes, in teaching and mentoring, and leadership in this type of context always involved an ongoing give and take of concessions agreed to and reciprocated.

Henry Clay, a 19th century American statesman, was known as a label of respect as the “Great Compromiser” from the way in which he was able to find effectively, mutually agreeable middle grounds where there was only the seeming opportunity for vigorous and even rancorous disagreement and impasse. The word “compromise” has taken a beating in recent years that speaks more to the intellectual bankruptcy of those who would deny the possibility of middle grounds and mutually agreed to working solutions, but whether that word is used or not, the more positive earlier meaning to it should apply here. When issues are complex and alternatives hold stark contrast in form, but with uncertainty of outcome if followed, negotiations and compromise become important. When outcomes actually realized have significant impact on the vitality and health of communities and their members this becomes more than just important. It becomes essential and vital.

An effective leader in such a situation has to be able to step outside of the immediate and away from the emotions of the moment, and a great leader can bring others out of this impasse too, to find common ground and to develop effective compromises that meet the higher priority needs of more than any one single perspective or constituency.

I realize that I am positing a cartoon image of an ideal in leadership and that the details of real world day to day do not always fit into these simple forms. Real leaders do not have perfect knowledge ever. They come in with their own biases and opinions and they can make errors in judgment and in their communications. And issues and their contexts change so needed priorities and goals shift and sometimes suddenly and even unexpectedly. And real leaders do lead and make the final arbiter decisions, and take responsibility for them – even if they reach their conclusions and make those decisions on the basis of a richer, more varied source of options and inputs.

If you find yourself organizing and leading a goals-oriented social networking system and community, organized around commonly held needs your leadership will always be a work in progress, and a learning curve. That said, at the end of every day and at many times during that day you will still have to make decisions, and some of them will require tact and negotiating and all of the rest that your more authoritarian counterparts from rigid hierarchical organizations may seem to dispense with. You, I will add, will be the better leader for that.

This posting looked into issues of leadership within the organization in finding and prioritizing decisions that will work for the community, and that promote reaching the community’s goals and mission. Leaders face outward to the larger community and communities around their goals oriented and defined social networks and community too, and I will turn to that in my next posting in this series on Green.

3 Responses

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  1. Personal Board Of Advisors. said, on April 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    […] Implementing a social networking strategy to drive effective green … […]

  2. […] or loosely hierarchical organization such as a social network and community based movement with part 7 of this series. There, I focused on issues of strategy and vision, and of overall management as developed when […]

  3. […] Part 2) and marketing for Green. I have also at least started a discussion on issues related to Green leadership and to negotiations and lobbying in this […]


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