Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Be The Centre of Your Tribe

One of the hot topics in business and organisational culture - both on and off the Internet - is the idea of "tribes", or community. The world is changing to be about community, not authority; villages, not islands; collaboration, not hierarchy.

As an expert, you can no longer rely on your positional authority alone to deliver that message. You are no longer an expert because you say you're an expert; rather, you're an expert because we say you're an expert. It's all about authority with community. This is a radical shift in the way we now view expertise.

The Internet has made this happen, but its effects spread far wider. Even if you're successful already, with unique knowledge, a captive audience and a loyal following, you must change.

Google has destroyed the power of your knowledge.
YouTube has stolen your audience.
And Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have taken your loyal following.

So what's a differencemaker to do?

"Corporate anthropologist" Michael Henderson makes the point that in corporations the leader - or CEO - is generally at the top of a hierarchy; but in tribes the leader is at the centre.

So: What would you do if you were at the centre of a community?

Here are some things you can do:

  • Find people in your network who need each other's services, but who don't know each other, and introduce them to each other.
  • Introduce people with common interests to each other.
  • Introduce people who work in the same market, but with non-competing areas of expertise, to each other.
  • Position other members of your community as experts, rather than you being "the" expert.
  • Empower other members of the community to take on leadership roles.
  • Find somebody to mentor in the community.
  • Create a succession plan for yourself, drawing from your community members.

Are some of these basic networking skills? Probably. But that doesn't make them any less valuable. If anything, they are even more relevant now.

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