Leading with purpose: how social leadership fuels performance

Social Leadership Cover

by Mark Eldridge, BD Consultant

Unlocking the Power of Social Leadership: Elevating EDI Performance

Traditional leadership models are evolving to nurture inclusive and diverse working environments in today’s ever-changing corporate landscape. In this age, leadership isn’t about authority; it’s about engagement, influence, and fostering authentic relationships that can help drive equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) performance to new heights. Enter “social leadership” – a style that reshapes how we can lead, connect, and drive EDI cultures. Efforts to explain “social leadership” often lead us to a common understanding: a style of leadership that goes beyond traditional norms. Social leaders prioritise emotional intelligence and empathy and foster connections, collaboration, and communication. They value strong relationships within their team and strive to cultivate a positive work culture.

So, what exactly does social leadership entail, and how can it be adopted and emphasised to drive equitable policies in a company?

Transparency: Picture a leader unafraid to wear their transparency like a badge of honour. They’re open, authentic, and unafraid to share insights, experiences, and vulnerabilities with their team. Why? Transparency builds trust and credibility, enabling leaders to connect with their audience more genuinely and profoundly.

Authenticity: Authenticity: Forget any public-facing facade – social leaders bring their authentic selves to the table. By ditching the polished image and embracing authenticity, genuine connections that resonate within the fabric of their organisational culture can be cultivated.

Engagement: Social leaders aren’t just figureheads; they’re active participants in the conversation. They listen intently, respond thoughtfully, and engage authentically to foster meaningful relationships with their team.

Influence: Leadership isn’t just about authority – it’s about influence. Social leaders use platforms to champion causes, mobilise support, and catalyse positive organisational change.

Empowerment: True leaders don’t dominate the spotlight; they share it generously. Social leaders empower others to rise, offering opportunities for growth, collaboration, and shared leadership. In doing so, they cultivate a culture of inclusivity and collective empowerment.

Adaptability: Change is the only constant, and social leaders embrace it with open arms. They’re agile, responsive, and always looking for innovative ways to enhance their leadership effectiveness.

Social leadership can significantly enhance EDI within a company by leveraging the power of three Cs; connection, collaboration, and communication. Those three aspects, in partnership with the factors above, help foster engagement, dialogue, and action around EDI-related issues.

Here’s how social leadership can contribute to improving EDI:

1. Amplifying Voices: Social leaders use platforms to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups within the company. By sharing diverse individuals’ stories, experiences, and perspectives, leaders can raise awareness of EDI issues and highlight the importance of inclusion.

2. Facilitating Dialogue: Social leaders create opportunities for open dialogue and discussion around EDI topics. Through media platforms, leaders can host Q&A sessions, facilitate virtual town halls, or participate in online forums to engage with employees and stakeholders on EDI-related matters.

3. Education and Resources: Social leaders share educational resources, articles, videos, and training materials related to EDI to help raise awareness and promote employee understanding. By providing access to information and tools, leaders empower individuals to become allies and advocates for EDI within the organisation.

4. Setting Expectations: Social leaders communicate clear expectations around EDI behaviours and practices using their platforms. By publicly affirming the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, leaders message that EDI is a priority and non-negotiable part of the organisational culture.

5. Celebrating Diversity: Social leaders celebrate the diversity of their workforce by highlighting the achievements, contributions, and successes of individuals from all backgrounds. By publicly recognising and valuing diversity, leaders reinforce a culture of inclusion and belonging within the company.

6. Addressing Challenges and Barriers: Social leaders use their influence to address challenges and barriers to EDI within the organisation. By acknowledging systemic issues, advocating for policy changes, and holding individuals accountable for their actions, leaders demonstrate a commitment to driving meaningful progress towards more significant equity and inclusion.

7. Leading by Example: Social leaders lead by example, modelling inclusive behaviours and demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning and growth. By actively engaging in EDI efforts and soliciting employee feedback, leaders create a culture where everyone feels empowered to contribute to positive change.

Social leadership is essential for boosting EDI within a company. Through empathy and building strong working relationships, social leaders encourage open dialogue and education and are proactive on diversity and inclusion matters. They utilise various platforms to uplift diverse voices, facilitate important discussions, and lead organisational transformation, ultimately creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace for everyone.

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