THE BLOG

You're Not a Social Business Leader If __________? (10 Hints)

12/21/2012 02:59 pm ET | Updated Feb 20, 2013

Ben Horowitz, the co-founder and general partner of the venture capital fund, Andreessen Horowitz, recently wrote a brilliant blog post titled "Programming Your Culture," where he noted: "Ask 10 founders about company culture and what it means and you'll get 10 different answers." The article made us think about the definition of a social business leader - another definition that has yet to be standardized in the business world. How would you define a social business leader? The standard answer may be that a social leader is collaborative, open minded, humble, curious, interested in developing future leaders and a list of attributes that point to inclusiveness and team oriented philosophy. That said, we know plenty of business leaders that are collaborative but they are not 'social' with respect to the modern definition that includes active participation in social networks - internal or external to their business.

Instead of defining what a social business executive is, we decided to list 10 hints that you're not a social business executive:

You are not a social business leader if...

  1. Your definition of social business: "a business that uses social media."
  2. You have never thanked a customer or business partner using a social network.
  3. You have never recruited talent using a social network .
  4. You have never participated in a Twitter chat and you have no idea how to use hashtags.
  5. You have never shared a photo via social network, showing your personal side and in return humanizing your interests.
  6. You have never congratulated or recognized an employee broadly, beyond your line of business; not just external but even internal social networks.
  7. You do not have a social network account other than LinkedIn.
  8. You do not share and defend your beliefs publically in real-time with active discussions and live debates - internal or external social networks. Social is about sharing the why.
  9. You have a person or department in charge of approving social network commentary from your employees.
  10. You think the only use of social media is to announce company press releases - a megaphone view instead of telephone view.

We also decided to crowdsource our list by asking our Twitter network for their input: We asked: "you're not a social business leader if _______?" and here are the top 10 tweeted answers we received:

  1. @dscofield: you think "social" only means "social media". And ...you think having an account on everything makes you social
  2. @jasonaverbook: you're not a social business leader if you think technology alone will turn you into a social business. And ...@jasonaverbook: you're not a social biz leader if you do not take the time to align your social biz initiatives to CURRENT biz objectives of org
  3. @RichRogersHDS: you're not a social business leader if you shield your vision, values, culture & team members from partners & customers.
  4. @dvanpatten: you're not a social business leader if you think broadcasting is the same as engaging.
  5. @jimserr: you don't willingly share your knowledge, expertise, and experiences.
  6. @DaveBirckhead: you're not a social business leader if you broadcast messages rather than engage in genuine listening & conversation
  7. @BMR_SF: think just tweeting is all you have to do and the rest just follows. Social starts off screen!
  8. @stevewaters17: if you lead with your business and expect people to follow.
  9. @SalesLounge: You're not a social business leader if you make it all about YOU and not about them... then blend it into "WE". ~J Abernethy
  10. @CalebClarkUA: If you treat all of your social media platforms the same.

Both lists are examples of behaviors that you can change to start the transformation into a more socially engaged and successful leader. Customer connections must be nurtured to develop mutual trust and lasting relationships. Social business leaders leverage technology to scale caring and amplify communication channels, guided by the ethos of value exchange versus value extraction. These leaders don't do social; they are S.O.C.I.A.L. - sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic and likeable.

This post was co-authored by Vala Afshar and Brad Martin, authors of "The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence," and the wonderful network of social thought leaders on Twitter.

This post is part of a series co-produced by The Huffington Post and Blogworld, in conjunction with the latter's BusinessNext Social 2013. That event will feature some of the world's leading social-business luminaries and influencers, each of whom will be speaking at the event to provide an up-close look at how the world's most successful businesses harness the power of social.