for those who would make a difference

Category: RalphMercer

Leadership Evolves Because People Change

Leadership evolves because people change, but the principles remain the same, early in my career I was taught 10 basic principles of leadership.. while the words have changed over the years to reflect contemporary language and changing culture.. but these still hold true.

  • Know your job
  • Know your strengths and limitations always seek self-improvement
  • Lead by example and be consistent
  • Make sure your team knows your intent and then lead them to the goal
  • Know your people and take care of them before yourself
  • Develop the leadership potential in your people
  • Make sound and timely decisions
  • Train your people as a team and challenge them to their fullest potential
  • Keep your people informed, provide clear vision and make your orders understood

We practiced Social Networking in a way back then, in the form of “O” groups, gathering everyone into a circle, passing on the days directions, accepting feedback and re-explaining the mission until everyone understood the intent and goal. Leadership then, as now was about people and communication and that is why I’m a SM advocate, it too is about people and communication. No matter where you are or who you are with, if you practiced these simple tenets you will be the leader… online or face to face it’s that simple (and that hard).

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Future Imperfect

When we look at the effects of technology on the future of our militaries we should remember that the past has shown that early adopters and pop media pundits will suffer from optimism bias and exaggerated both the pace and pervasiveness of changes in our society. For our part, our perceptions of the future will be shaped by military cultural and our risk adverse hierarchical environment. History has also shown there are no revolutionary technological changes, just the rapid evolution of those that exist.

The interface between man and machine will improve, allowing us to interact and assimilate information faster than ever. Culturally we will become knowledge nomads, global networkers and sifters of social media, taking threads of news, information and entertainment from the web and weaving it into our own personal data stream. These evolutionary jumps in technological will be fuelled by the symbioses of technology and culture and the paradox that the more technology affects culture the more it will be shaped by our expectations. With each technological advance we need to define and understand the social and ethical implications of using new technologies and their effects on military culture and ethos.

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Collaboration is not Just a Cooperative Venture

I was lucky enough to give a couple of presentations recently, one at an intergovernmental social networking workshop and the other was a brief talk at a PS collaborative management day, both were outstanding events and real learning experiences for me. Listening to the other great presenters, re-enforced my fundamental beliefs that collaboration is not just a cooperative venture, but a deeper intellectual interaction based on respect and trust. It is the connection of people into communities, their conversations and relationships that will enable us to make the rich layers of knowledge that are needed to address tomorrows complexities today.

Key Points

  • Leadership is not threatened by collaboration, people are. The vertical alignment of the org charts will still exist, the chain of authority, responsibility and accountability haven’t changed, but what has changed is the access to new innovative solutions and possibilities that come with connecting the horizontal lines of collaboration.
  • It may well be impossible to implement collaboration and social learning within government if we can’t get past the restrictive policies and realize that collaboration is not a risk but an enabler.
  • Simply put, change must start now if we want it to be part of the cultural fabric of the future. ( stop talking about it, and do it, trust your people)
  • Just as we create physical workspace to generate creativity we need to design the collaboration spaces that stimulate the mind not close it down with poor design. We need to move from the document and records management architecture that is a “file and forget” system, to one that we can surface the information we need and connect it to the right people, in the right place at the right time.
  • Managers exercise the authority they are given, if they are not empowered to say yes, they will say no rather than ask up the chain. The new managers role will shift from being the gatekeepers of the corporate knowledge to enablers of the practices and behaviors that build corporate knowledge from the bottom up.

And finally if I can leave you with one thought on integrating any social technology into our work it is this; stop building policy that keeps telling us what we can’t do and start building policy that tells what we should do. Just imagine the power of policy that encourages us, defining our interactions with each other in positive voice, now wouldn’t that be refreshing.

Ralph Mercer

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