I finally had a chance to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In.” While the book caused a wide range of reactions—some rife with criticism—the book essentially provides useful facts and tips encouraging professional women to aspire for leadership positions. Staying on topic with this blog, I’m going to focus on how these tips can also be applied (regardless of your gender) to an enterprise social network.
Lean In – “Career progression often depends upon taking risks and advocating for oneself.”
Executives in your company may have no idea who you are or what you do, but if you post useful information on your internal network, they’ll start to notice. This should go beyond posting the latest news updates and competitive insights you come across. Use the network to present a report on what you’re working on and how you’re driving results. Of course, you don’t want to be known as the “look at me” coworker who’s always trumpeting their own work, but it is a good idea to post a quality report at least once a month.
Sit at the Table – “Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.”
Figure out what areas of your organization need help and come up with a concrete strategy to spearhead that initiative (run it by your manager, too). Then use the network to collaborate with the right employees to make it happen. Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a task.” So use your ESN to rally people, get things done, and increase visibility for what you’re accomplishing.
Get Feedback – “The upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.”
As much as we try to guess what our managers and coworkers are thinking, it’s oftentimes more effective to ask for feedback directly. Requesting feedback also shows that you’re willing to listen to other employees–another good sign of leadership potential. The best example I saw of this was when a chief marketing officer posted a poll on our internal social network asking what sales reps needed from marketing to help them drive sales. It provided great feedback on the areas marketing needed to work on and helped the sales force tremendously.
Lead – “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Leaders can use enterprise social networks to build community: “a sense that employees and leaders are in it together, and sharing both the challenges and rewards of work.” Good leaders use community to collectively solve problems, build relationships and recognize their colleagues for their good work.
Whether you’re an executive or a junior employee, leadership is meaningless if teams have difficulty working together and employees don’t see the overall vision. ESN helps employees communicate, have a deeper understanding of what management values and what individuals are working on.
For more information on enterprise social networking, visit our resources page.