One of the fascinating things I am starting to see within organizations that are deploying collaborative tools and strategies is the emergence of leaders. Traditionally if you were to ask someone who a leader was at their company they would name a manager or a senior executive. However, this is no longer the case. Any and every employee at these “collaborative” companies is given a voice and has the opportunity to become a leader in any number of topics. In one organization I was recently speaking with (which employees several hundred thousand employees) I was told of an employee who has been at the company for a few years who has a greater following and internal blog readership than the CEO…this is amazing.
Leaders aren’t created by their authority, they are created by their ability to share their sense of “why” and their knowledge, passion, and experience in a particular area. Leaders are also exceptional story tellers. Through social media and collaborative platforms employees can now share these things.
In traditional environments where employees typically don’t have a voice it is now possible to become a recognized leader among peers and coworkers. Leaders can come in all shapes and sizes and can be leaders on any topic. You might have an employee in the R&D department who is a leader of community outreach and social responsibility. There may be an employee in the marketing department who is a leader of work-life balance. Still, you might have another employee in the finance department who is a leader in health and fitness.
Your job function and role no longer determines the path you can take within a company or what you can be recognized for. Knowing this, why would any employee want to work for an organization where they don’t have the opportunity to become a leader?
The sad thing is that many organizations are focusing on creating managers and not enough on recognizing and cultivating leaders. Every company in the world has leaders and most of these companies have no idea who they are. We have amazing people with amazing ideas sitting in our four walls but we’re too busy stuck in a legacy mentality to recognize them.
Managers don’t change the world or grow and build successful companies, leaders do. Do you know who your leaders are?