Dec 29, 2008

Influence and Power

The blogosphere has been a-buzz the last weekend on popularity and influence.

A Prof of mine actually used to take an elective in my MBA which was earlier called Power, Influence and Politics which was later renamed to the more politically correct Leadership, Influence and Power.

These three terms are closely related. One builds power which is not linked to formal positions of authority and positions by being of service to others. What one leader can offer by way of service can differ, from tangible benefits to a higher level of identity and aspirations - which typically gets called Charismatic Leadership. However what we are actually talking about is Servant Leadership.

In the age of Social Media, where your readers and attention is a finite resource, you have to add something to what they know, feel and understand in each and every post. One cannot be a leader in social media unless one recognises that. That is why Scoble is right when he says:

Here’s why I’ve been saying for the past year that it is far more important who you follow than who follows you: if you follow people just to get followers you’ll end up being overworked, deep in information overload, and superficial to boot. You won’t have a philosophy. It +will+ show. You might be able to fool most of the idiots most of the time, but eventually they’ll see the difference between the “collect follower” types and the “surround yourself with smart people” types like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen.
I can smell the “follow me” types a million miles away, can’t you?
One crowd is off the rails in idiot land, the other is building something of lasting value.
Which one do we want to incent? The “follow me” idiots? Or the “try to get smarter” crowd?
I know I’m swimming upstream, but I want to get smarter. Screw the page views. Screw the business models. They all are lame anyway. I want better friends. Better content. Better news. Better ideas. That means I need to find better people to be part of my social network. Idiots be damned.