In enterprise social, it’s not how many you manage but who you influence that counts


I overheard a partially interesting conversation on the train a couple of nights ago. I say partially because it involved two junior managers comparing how many people they had reporting to them as a measure of career success….However what it sparked in the recesses of my random mind was how both leadership and influence is going to change with the advent of enterprise social.

Three years ago I asked the question (in an enterprise change context): What’s the difference between Leadership and Influence ?

Can the two be separate factors in contributing adoption and success ? Can you be a leader in your organisation but exercise little influence, and vice-versa can you be an influencer but command no leadership ?

There’s a difference in my mind and the two need to work together.

Given the collaborative and connected enterprise which is starting to emerge from the dark thanks to the social network integration with enterprise tools I think we need to look to those with the largest ‘Sphere of Influence’ as well as the traditional (and old) hierarchical leadership model for success.

A couple of interesting answers came back;

“Management and leadership, or management and influence, do not necessarily occur together. But it is hard for me to think of too many effective leaders who don’t exert influence outside of their core circle of control.”

“Leadership offers vision and direction, and sets the ‘scene’ for the change. Influence occurs all along the change effort, from the first awareness of the change through to positively reinforcing adopters and compliance.”

The one which caught my attention most and that can be applied in today’s enterprise social context is that “influence seems to involve championing and ‘socially’ leading the change.”

With tools that engage, encourage and expose the real influencers across an organisation, those people will actually be able to shape decision making with far bigger impact and consensus than a leader would with direct reports (in this case, a manager). It may be something that traditionalists will baulk at and try to discourage but there’s no stopping the flood once you’ve opened up the social gates in your business and it should also cause a rethink in how you perceive hierarchy in the organisation.

So do you want to manage or influence ?

Can you manage, lead and influence at the same time ?

And should you let those in your control influence a much wider community ?

Social can be a Pandora’s Box, can you manage what it releases ?


One response to “In enterprise social, it’s not how many you manage but who you influence that counts

  1. Can you manage influence? There are plenty of people, especially within a large organization, that keep things moving and get things done but don’t necessarily have the title to go along with their influence. On the flip side, there are plenty of people with hefty looking titles and no influence. Should the second group try to control the first?

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