Authority and Authors, Social Media and Social Contracts

As part of the CT Health Leaders Fellowship program, I've been challenged to come up with "S.M.A.R.T." goals about my personal leadership. I've been thinking a lot about this, and trying to think out what goals make the most sense for me.

I have a certain ambivalence to traditional views of leadership, as I mentioned in my previous post, where I posted the old question, "Are you a leader, are you a follower, are those the only two options?" To a certain extent, we are all leaders, if we are willing to take up our leadership, or to toss in another quote, "One man, with courage, is a majority".

When I think about traditional views of leadership, I think about inside/outside strategies. Are you a leader on the inside? Have you been authorized to lead within an existing empowered social structure? Are you a leader of an outside group, perhaps authorized by a different existing social structure, the loyal opposition, to challenge the existing empowered social structure? Again, are these the only two options? Are the only two options inside the box, or outside the box? Is being outside the box, still defining you in the context of the current box?

I've attended several Group Relations conferences. Their titles often begin with the word 'Authority'. This begs a question, where does authority come from? How does it get formed? It is worth noting that 'authority' and 'author' come from the same root, to increase or augment.

To the extent that a person is writing within an established system, their authorship, their authority, is recognized by people reading what has been written; by the writings being cited by other authors. These ideas form a framework for a social contract affecting the way people deal with one another.

In the age of the Internet, just about anyone can publish whatever they want. It's easy, just set up a blog. That's what I did. But setting up a blog doesn't mean that anyone will read what you've written, much less, agree, share, or act upon your words, or that enough people will act upon your words to grant you any real authority.

Through using social media, you can reach a larger audience and potentially find others for whom your writing will resonate. You can use social media, within your existing social context, to ask people to join you and share your thoughts, to create new coalitions, new contexts, and from there, establish authority that is less anchored to existing empowered social structures.

Yet what are the things in our lives that prevent us from becoming authors and developing new audiences, new coalitions, and new authority? How does it relate to the social structures we grew up in, in our families, in our schools, churches and communities?

These are important questions that need to be asked, to help add a little meat to the bones of new ideas about authority, authorship, social contracts and social media. For me, this meat on the bones needs to be S.M.A.R.T., Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

So, my current challenge is to come up with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely goals around using social media to reevaluate our social contracts in the Internet Era. It seems very relevant and timely, the question becomes, what is specific measurable and attainable and what is blocking me from reaching these goals?

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