Social is risky. So is leading.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social-business social-media ibmsocialbiz smw11 social business
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By Jacques Pavlenyi, Market Segment Manager, IBM Collaboration Solutions
Many IBMers are taking part in Social Media week, Kathy Mandelstein and Todd Watson to name just two. I too have been participating, watching the Twitter feeds and diving into various user communities. Since I've recently expanded my role from focusing on IBM Sametime to the broader Messaging and Collaboration portfolio -- Lotus Notes, Lotus Domino, Lotus Symphony, etc. -- I've been deep in the learning phase. So what better way to learn than to read what our partners and customers are actually talking about.
I've been socially active for years. But even I was humbled by the deep passion, the depth and the honesty of these conversations. Conversations on PlanetLotus. On LinkedIn. In LotusUserGroup.org. In blog comments. It was uncomfortable, to be honest, to hear more than one person criticizing our direction, as it:
Then I got an “A HA!” moment: I believe great leaders and great companies FEEL the exact same thing. And the truly great ones ACTIVELY SEEK OUT this discomfort. I've read about this a lot, for example: Harvard Business Review's Level 5 Leadership; Good to Great: why some companies make the leap...and others don't, and IBM's own 2010 CEO Study, which confirmed that leading companies harness complexity and discomfort for success. There's truth to that old chestnut, it takes an irritating grain of sand to make a pearl.
I think many great companies and great leaders have already been doing this for a long time:
In my mind, what's changed isn't the underlying nature of people, it's that now much more of these very human interactions, learning and processes happen through a complex web of social media and online interactions.Sound familiar? It's what being a social business is all about. It's why we're talking about moving from “social media” to “social business”. I for one would much rather hear the entire truth and deal with it (“you're right”, or “you're wrong”, or “you have a point, but...”), than blissfully driving myself forward, and right off a cliff. If being social helps me deal with reality more successfully (andthere's plenty of proof it does), I welcome the discomfort and risks.
How is social challenging your comfort zones? Your comments here are encouraged! You can also join the #IBMSocialBiz conversation on Twitter, or see what others are saying on our SocialBusiness conversation aggregator.