Four Must Have Skills For Tomorrow’s Leaders

Every now and then it is important to take a personal inventory of your skills and abilities. I don’t mean an end of the year surface-level, quick, “hey, I’m great” type of thing. I’m talking about an honest, candid evaluation of yourself as a leader. A deep look inside.

Every time I have done this over the years, I also ask myself, “What skills do I need to develop to be more successful in the future?” There are four must have leadership skills on my list this year. They are:

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American Wellness, Internet and Social Media

Long gone are the days of being dependent on your doctor for medical information. A new Pew internet study on ‘The Social Life of Health Information’ cites data that states that in 2000, 46% of American adults had access to the internet. Now, 61% of all American adults look for health information online. This fundamental shift in our habits has revolutionized access to health information. People with worrying or embarrassing symptoms now often turn to the plethora of medical advice sites before presenting their symptoms to a physician, if they do so at all. This has led to claims by many physicians that people are being misled or inaccurately trying to ‘self-diagnose’, especially those lacking adequate insurance coverage.

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Sales and Marketing Alignment: What the Experts Have to Say

The CMO Council recently published a report entitled “Closing the Gap: The Sales and Marketing Alignment Imperative.” Among other key findings, the study revealed that “…there is an urgent need for marketing, sales, and channel management to align and embrace technologies, processes, and programs that enable wider and deeper customer conversations, as well as leverage the knowledge, influence, and access of the channel and continuously refine the delivery of products and services in the most painless, seamless, and satisfying way.” Although that’s definitely more than a mouthful, the points made are important ones and likely resonate with most marketers.

I’ve been in the marketing game for a long time, and the whole sales and marketing alignment thing is near and dear to my heart. Without exception, the issue of alignment has reared its head in one form or another at every company for which I have worked. As a marketing generalist, I don’t claim to be an alignment expert, but I can tell you that the effort you put forth in that area can pay huge dividends.

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An Idea Worth Spreading: The Future is Networks

This weekend I experienced a snowcrash; a moment where the seemingly disparate pieces of information floating in my head came together. A synapse fired, a new connection was made, and I was brought to a new level of consciousness, a new way of seeing the world. In reading this over, it almost sounds obvious, but it took me a while to get here. I hope that by sharing with you, it’ll help you “get it” too. So let me take you on my thinking trail.

Insight #1: The Overview

The Future is Networks.

This idea has been buzzing in my head for a long time. The first time I wrote it down was over a year ago, not really understanding what that meant, but it was an “intuition.” As time has gone by, this has seemed more and more probable, but I wasn’t sure how it fit together.

The buzzing has been growing louder, and my mind was saying, ‘The future of Social Business is networks,’ ‘The future of education is networks,’ ‘The future of society is networks.’

What the hell did this mean?

I know everyone is busy. Everyone is looking for some solution to how to make their situation better. If you will just bear with me, I’m going to expose you to what I found to be an incredibly powerful idea.

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Three Social Media Myths I Encounter

The marketing communications toolbox is exploding, and social media is fast becoming a game changer for businesses of all sizes and industries. We work with clients who understand the value of powerful language and smart marketing; so we don’t have to spend time educating them on why they should stay current with technology and new media channels. But we’ve had many conversations with people, even communications professionals, who continue to ignore the information channels on the social web. Why? Here are 3 of the most common social media myths and excuses we hear:

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We Can Do It

We Can Do It!

Too often, it seems, this attitude is missing from teams, organizations or the community.

It’s missing because people are quick to opt out of the ‘we’ part. “What do you mean, we?” they ask. It’s so easy to not be part of we, so easy to make it someone else’s problem, so easy to not to take responsibility as a member of whatever tribe you’re part of.

Sometimes it’s missing because people disagree about what ‘it’ is. If you don’t know what you’re after, it’s unlikely you’re going to find it.

And it’s missing because people confuse cynicism with realism, and are afraid to say “can”. They’d rather say ‘might’ or even ‘probably won’t’.

Just about everything worth doing is worth doing because it’s important and because the odds are against you. If they weren’t, then anyone could do it, so don’t bother.

Product launches, innovations and initiatives by any organization work better when the key people agree on the goal, believe that they can achieve it and that the plan will work.

Do we have a cynicism shortage? Unlikely.

Successful people rarely confuse a can-do attitude with a smart plan. But they realize that one without the other is unlikely to get you very far.

Count me in. Let’s go.

Innovate or Follow… but be sure to evolve

Everyone in every business is tempted to continue doing what works, maintain the status quo, don’t rock the boat, etc.

Embracing this strategy might seem to work for giants like Cisco, Microsoft, and now Google (although they do not seem likely to take this approach), but most companies, especially those trying to surprise (and surpass) the “giants” and disrupt the market or simply stay ahead, must innovate and by doing so shake the grounds of the market they work in. If you do not have it in you to innovate, then be sure to watch the market closely and get on the heels of those that do!

This is especially true in the social media/marketing space right now. What was new yesterday is what everyone is doing today so even more important now than ever as everything moves so quickly and adoption rates hit exponential levels.

If you do not evolve your approach and look to get on the cutting edge of the new… you will be left behind. Maybe not today or tomorrow… but too soon.

Social Media: Brand Making & Brand Breaking–What Keeps CEOs Awake

As a “Twitter Evangelist” I feel like I preach daily about the benefits of Twitter for businesses. And not just Twitter, but all social networks as a rule. Posting online about your business clearly improves your search rankings and can dramatically improve your business “digital footprint” as my friend Brad Wilkerson likes to say.

It can also help you tell your story, promote events, promote your news (PR), recruit good people, etc. The benefits far exceed the negatives in my opinion.

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Social Capital is not the same as Whuffie

Venessa Miemis - Social Capital whiteboard

I recently read a post by Brian Solis titled Social Capital: The Currency of the Social Economy, which served as the catalyst for one of the most entertaining Twitter conversations I’ve had so far. I personally had a problem with the way the term “social capital” was used in the piece, which was inspired by the definition given to it by Tara Hunt in The Whuffie Factor. The reason I had a problem was that “social capital” already exists as a sociological concept that’s been in development for many years, and to now boil it down to an equivalent to “reputation” didn’t seem appropriate. And so I tweeted the sentiment. A lively discussion ensued with all kinds of people chiming in, including Brian Solis and Tara Hunt themselves. (Even Umair Haque from the Harvard Business Review made a cameo appearance. fun!)

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How to be un-boring: interview with Scott Stratten, Mr. Unmarketing

Talk about cutting through the clutter! Want to make a point about pointless wall posts? Check out the Unmarketing hit song and video. Makes the point, yes? If you want to do something even more memorable, check out Scott’s contrarian marketing philosophy and tactics on his blog and Twitter stream (but please don’t post teddy bears, hearts, or even blessings on his wall).

Scott took a few minutes with me to talk about his upcoming book, Unmarketing, the tour to support it (how ’bout that “un-book tour”?), and the un-usual method he employed to git-er-dun. Time with Scott is like happy hour at an oxygen bar: you’ll leave refreshed and pumped for a grand adventure.

Guest Scott Stratten: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Scott Stratten: Twitter | Website
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[link to the Social Media Professor with Scott Stratten podcast file because Google Buzz drops the embed]