23rd Mar. '11

Leading the employee 2.0

A post by Philipp Rosenthal

For many years I’ve been a big fan of Stephen R. Covey’s concept of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I have to admit that living my private and business life based on these seven key guidelines has made things significantly easier. The great thing about the seven habits is that they are common sense. Just consequently applying them in combination is more challenging than you would expect it to be.

Just recently I was sitting together with a friend of mine who is quite close to the concept and into leadership and management training. Somehow we started asking ourselves if the seven habits could be translated into seven rules of successfully transforming an organization into an enterprise 2.0 creating a home for the future talent and cyber cowboys. Since the NoFear Community is about exchanging ideas and experience I am wondering what you think about the following interpretation of the guidelines:

1. Be proactive

Rolling out a social media inspired communication and collaboration platform and hoping for the virus to spread most likely won’t lead to the desired results. Being a proactive leader in an enterprise 2.0 stands for being a role model. The adoption of social communication techniques and the openness to collaborate across functional and geographical borders has to happen throughout the organization including the top management. Proactively moving from corporate monologue and formality to a dialogue and inspiration orientated way of working as a leader can be one of the strongest signals for change.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Unleashing the networked organization requires to understand that hierarchies and organizational structures will become only the framework of a company. Value and results will be driven from networked talent and knowledge. In a long run this means loss of power for the manager as we know him/her today. Changing to that from the models that were established until recently requires a careful process. Even experienced and talented people managers have to be taken by the hand and led to the new age of giving an organization the freedom to flourish and contribute with a new level of creativity and commitment.

3. Put first things first

The change process to the networked and social media inspired organization ideally starts closest to the operational business. Simply, because that’s what people are measured on. If new ways of collaboration and communication are established in that context adoption is much easier than as if it would be added on top of the work towards shared goals for example in project, account or product teams. The work ‘towards shared subjects, passions and interest’ is the second phase that has to build upon the success and motivation that had derived from adding more effectiveness and creativity to the every day work.

4. Think win-win

Well, that one’s easy. Answer your follower’s question of ‘what’s in for me’ authentically and honestly. There probably isn’t any more efficient way of motivating people to change behavior.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

If you want to unlock the potential of your organization listen to the ones that run it for real. Not just the managers that manage it. Listen to the ones that are in touch with your customers, partners and allies every single days Ask them what would make their life easier and how they would be able to contribute even more to your bottom line. At then end of the day it’s a great starting point for change if the ones that are supposed to alter their behavior get the feeling that it’s actually done to make their (work) life easier. Simply, because someone went through the effort of listening before giving the answers. A little bit like in industry sales ;-)

6. Synergize

Open borders! Break down silos. Connect people with people and people with knowledge. Stop solely thinking in boxes, CVs and certificates. Sometimes there will derive more value from two networked, dedicated and passionate developers than from the one who has the best certificate for the job. This might sound like common sense but today’s reality is still that one is supposed to do that he or she was hired for. Continuously investigating if employees – in a combination with others – might be able to contribute more value at another point in the company definitely isn’t part of standard management and leadership procedures. At least not the executed ones…

7. Sharpen the saw

Don’t rush into the enterprise 2.0 because every publication is preaching it. Don’t suffocate the potential under a massive IT solution that unable to answer the question of ‘what’s in for me’ for the ones that don’t fall in the geek and nerd category. Take your organization by the hand – don’t distribute a handbook. Evolving from the hierarchical and formally driven 4 cylinder to the powerful and network driven turbo charged formula 1 car takes time. Constantly making sure that the saw still is in the right shape to cut through rusty old structures is an important part of leading this transformation.


So far so good – what do you think? Does it make sense to approach leadership for the enterprise and employee 2.0 from this angle?



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