The following guest post is from my friend Ben Lichtenwalner, author of the new book Paradigm Flip: Leading People, Teams, and Organizations Beyond the Social Media Revolution. I was honored to write the foreword for the book and invited Ben to share the following message with you. (At the end of the post, Ben will tell you how you can get 30% off his book and a free copy of my eBook Doing Leadership: The Concise Guide to What Leaders Think and Do.)
What is Your Digital Leadership Platform?
What is your leadership platform model? A digital leadership platform is how you connect with stakeholders online. Your stakeholders may include employees, customers or anyone else you serve through your leadership. In Paradigm Flip: Leading People, Teams, and Organizations Beyond the Social Media Revolution, I define three models of digital platforms for contemporary leaders: Stronghold, Spiderweb and the Hub and Spoke. Below is a brief explanation of each along with pros and cons. Which model do you use today? Which should you plan for in the future?
The stronghold platform is how many leaders get started. The stronghold term describes a veritable fortress. In the platform model, this describes one that has barriers to entry such as user registration, or even complete firewalls preventing anyone but those pre-approved to have access. As a result, the stronghold leadership platform is a “safe space” to share ideas with like-minded individuals and a low risk of opposition. That’s the positive side. On the negative side, the message shared in this environment cannot spread very far and introducing new stakeholders to the community or team is very difficult.
Some examples of Stronghold digital leadership platforms include corporate intranets, LinkedIn Groups or discussion forums that require pre-approval. Sites like Yammer that are setup to act like closed corporate social networks may also be considered Strongholds.
The Spiderweb model is much more open than the Stronghold. Just like a true spider’s web, this digital platform model sprawls a broad area in order to capture as much traffic as possible. However, also like the spider’s web, this model requires continuous maintenance which can be exhausting for the leader and / or draining on her resources. This plays out online when leaders don’t have a single, centralized source of content but deliver and maintain their message, equally, across many different sites.
An example of a leader with a Spiderweb model is one who starts off sharing news on Facebook. Then, they duplicate that message, perhaps with some slight modification, for LinkedIn. Then, a more visual version is created for Pinterest while the video message is recorded for Vimeo. While this model has far more reach than the Stronghold and could have a low external cost, it requires a hefty toll on the leader and staff.
Hub and Spoke
For most leaders, the Hub and Spoke model is optimal. This model is often a combination of the Stronghold and Spiderweb models. In the Hub and Spoke model, the leader creates content once, then shares it – or pieces of it – across many sites. Each of the sharing sites (the spokes) link back to the original content (the hub). As a result, the leader is able to author the primary message once, yet reach the broadest group of stakeholders. However, it is still a very open model which limits the ability for the leader to share confidential messages as may be necessary for some corporate executives.
An example of the Hub and Spoke model in practice would be a leader establishing a blog and authoring a post on it. Then, that leader shares a portion of content from that post, along with a link back to it, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. If this seems familiar, that’s because it is very popular for leaders who do not have security or regulatory concerns.
Whichever model you follow today, it is important to consider the costs and benefits of each alternative before making a switch. For more on these models, social media for leaders and examples of great leadership practices online, check out Paradigm Flip on my blog. There you’ll find an offer for 30% off as well as a free copy of Mark Sanborn’s Doing Leadership eBook.