obama kissing baby.jpgWe've all seen the images - politicians on the campaign trail kissing babies.

 

Awwwww, right??  BABIES!  I don't know if this an American thing or if it happens all over, but I bet there is some version of it that is universal. Because, really, it's about leaders engaging with the people they seek to lead, and that's what this post is about.

 

Like it or hate it, business is now social. We know that. Many of us make our living on it in many ways - we sell it to our clients.  We espouse the value of it externally, evangelize about how companies products enable it. We stake our future on it, invest in it.

 

And guess what? Many of our companies use it internally, too, via our Jive implementations. Time for our leaders to eat our own dog food!

 

The truth is this isn't new. Leaders who have engaged with their people have always done well. I am always fascinated by the biographies of good leaders and sometimes the various story lines all run together, but one of my favorites is about a CEO who came to the office every morning at a big company and parked his car at the farthest spot on the parking lot. When he was asked about it, he said he enjoyed the opportunity to chat with various people from all ranks in the company on his walk in.

 

Did you just smile? Get a little chill up your spine? Isn't that a phenomenal anecdote? I think so - I love it. It's engagement.

 

Engagement is not a new buzzword - it's been around for a long time. It's just now we have a new medium to foster engagement across many geographies and many time zones - we have social business.

 

A colleague recently said to me "Broadcasting is not participating."  So true. Broadcasting is standing on the podium and talking to - or at - the people.  Engaging is stepping into the crowd and kissing a few babies, even the ugly ones.

 

Engaging builds rapport, which leads to trust. Leaders need that trust if they want people to follow them. And if they want to be successful in inspiring people to give their all toward reaching the vision and goals, they do need ardent followers.

 

This type of engagement also allows people to see the leader in a full and genuine manner - more than just what is published in the official communications. It's removing the 3rd person and the word-scrubbing and the over-filtering. It's making the leader accessible.

 

In my time using an internal social platform from Jive, I've seen some leaders embrace it and build huge engagement, and I've seen some remain aloof.  I've even seen some step out occasionally and receive a lot of kudos for doing so. The people want it, the people need it, the people are hungry for it especially during these bumpy times of reductions, outsourcing, cost-cutting, and constant change.

 

I don't know if any of your leaders will read this post. Probably the ones who do are already engaged in social business.  I imagine that over time, we'll win some over and others will cycle out of the corporate world and be replaced with those who do embrace a more full engagement model.

 

If this does reach any leaders who may be hovering on the edge, then my advice would be - jump in, the water's fine. There are amazing rewards to engagement. It doesn't take a huge time investment - you could set aside 30 minutes a week to poke around your company's social network, comment, and 'like' what your people are saying.  You may learn something that energizes you, you may connect some dots that takes something big forward, you may meet the person you recruit as the next superstar in your organization.

 

Those things alone are exciting enough reasons to take the plunge.

 

I'm available for consulting for the price of a few red jelly beans. CALL ME! I'll let you kiss this beautiful baby boy:

 

Dex Easter for The Hub.jpg

 

(See what I did there? I snuck in a photo of my beautiful grandson, Dexter. Awwwww..... adorable.gif)