we all need to change to get better - leaders too

by James Baker

"Have you ever done a search on CEO in Google images? (I got inspired after a recent social media training session I organised with the lovely Caz Yetman, and after reading this recent article on ditching the civil service tie.)

Go on, have a go - search, and see what comes up. How many people across the globe do you think might feel an affinity with the people in the results shown?

They don't really capture any expertise do they (despite the screaming suits and ties). Can you relate to them? Do they look like you? Your friends? Do you think they'd represent your best interests? Hmmmm not so sure now hey??

I think this also goes for the way in which CEOs, directors and politicians, have been positioned as some kind of other worldly creature, historically disconnected from the wider organization, industry or stakeholders.  

This perception and working culture is changing though....everywhere. In private industry, the third sector, in UK Gov and all the way up to the Whitehouse we're trying new and unexpected things. It's all about positive 360 collaboration, no matter your grade or position, showing yourself to be a real human and working as part of a wider team - which has equal voice and standing. (Hands up those who have experienced an unconference, or sat on the floor with Steph Gray and directors and played the wheel of misfortune?). When you really think about it. It's a no brainer why it might be more productive and (enjoyable) to work like this.

'Gate-keeping', being risk averse, and encouraging a competitive culture are all on their way out too.  Some of this change might come from the publication of the Edelman Trust Barometer (see attached and again thanks to Caz). It highlights that Trust in CEOs & Government regulators is dropping, while the trust and influence of peers and 'regular' employees is actually going up. 

To gain trust, influence and deliver or drive real results it's got to be about being a 'gate-opener', being 'risk aware', listening to (and being part of) the internal and external crowd (whatever your position in an organisation). Oh yeah... and let's not forget being open to fluid change and sometimes trying things that might not work. It's the only way we'll continue to innovate. Ask Edison.

This last one isn't anything new though. It might sound like something plucked from an idealistic self appointed 'digital guru' or Internal Comms smorgasbord, but the quote below is actually from that little known social rock star Winston Churchill (adopted to death by lifelong creative communicator and chameleon David Bowie).

''To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often'' 

I think there's many more positive changes just around the corner. A lot of us are starting to think a bit more like Bowie. That might be a bit scary, and non-traditional for some - but let's get ready to say hello.''

James Baker is Social Media Manager at The Food Standards Agency

photo credit