10 Qualities Every Leader of The Future Needs to Have

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The reigning theory in business has long been that “alpha” leaders make the best entrepreneurs. These are aggressive, results-driven achievers who  assert control and insist on a hierarchical organizational model. Yet I am  seeing increasing success from “beta” startup cultures where the emphasis is on  collaboration, curation and communication.

Some argue that this new horizontal culture is being driven by Gen-Y,  whose focus has always been more communitarian. Other business culture experts,  like Dr. Dana Ardi, in her new book The Fall of the Alphas, argue that the rise of the  betas is really part of a broader culture change driven by the Internet —  emphasizing communities, instant communication and collaboration.

Can you imagine the overwhelming growth of Facebook,  Wikipedia and Twitter in  a culture dominated by alphas? This would never happen. I agree with Ardi who  says most successful workplaces of the future need to adopt the following beta  characteristics and better align themselves with the beta leadership model:

1. Do away with archaic command-and-control models. Winning  startups today are horizontal, not hierarchical. Everyone who works at an  organization feels they’re part of something, and moreover, that it’s the next  big thing. They want to be on the cutting-edge of technology.

2. Practice ego management. Be aware of your own biases and  focus on the present as on the future. You need to manage the egos of team  members by rewarding collaborative behavior. There will always be the need for  decisive leadership, particularly in times of crisis. I’m not suggesting total  democracy.

3. Stress innovation. Betas believe that team members need  to be given an opportunity to make a difference — to give input into key  decisions and communicate their findings and learnings to one another. Encourage  team-members to play to their own strengths so that the entire team and  organization leads the competition.

4. Put a premium on collaboration and teamwork. Instead of  knives-out competition, these companies thrive by building a successful  community with shared values. Team members are empowered and encouraged to  express themselves. The best teams are hired with collaboration in mind. The  whole is thus more than the sum of its parts.

5. Create a shared culture. Leadership is fluid and  flexible. Integrity and character matter a lot. Everyone knows about the  culture. Everyone subscribes to the culture. Everyone recognizes both its  passion and its nuance. The result looks more like a symphony orchestra than an  advancing army.

6. Be ready for roles and responsibilities to change weekly, daily  and even hourly. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make is they  don’t act quickly enough. Markets and needs change fast. Now there is a focus on  social, global and environmental responsibility. Hierarchies make it hard to  adjust positions or redefine roles. The beta culture gets it done.

7. Temper confidence with compassion. Mindfulness, of self  and others, by boards, executives and employees, may very well be the single  most important trait of a successful company. If someone is not a good cultural  fit or is not getting their job done, make the change quickly, but with  sensitivity.

8. Invite employees to contribute. The closer everyone in  the organization comes to achieving his or her singular potential, the more  successful the business will be. Successful cultures encourage their employees  to keep refreshing their toolkits, keep flexible, keep their stakes in the  stream.

9. Stay diverse. Entrepreneurs build teams. They don’t fill  positions. Cherry-picking candidates from name-brand universities will do  nothing to further an organization and may even work against it. Don’t wait for  the perfect person — he or she may not exist. Hire for track record and  potential.

10. Not everyone needs to be a superstar. Superstars don’t  pass the ball, they just shoot it. Not everyone wants to move up in an  organization. It’s perfectly fine to move across. Become your employees’ sponsor  — on-boarding with training and tools is essential. Spend time listening. Give  them what they need to succeed.

Savvy entrepreneurs and managers around the world are finding it more  effective to lead through influence and collaboration, rather than relying on  fear, authority and competition. This is rapidly becoming the new paradigm for  success in today’s challenging market. Where does your startup fit in with this  new model? -Martin Zwilling

A Social-Media Marketing Primer Even Your Mom Can Handle

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Digital touch points are going to be a central part of almost any brand’s media plan. It’s important to understand how to navigate the digital world, particularly social media.
The problem is that keeping up with technology is a full-time job in and of itself. So don’t even try, just focus on the marketing part. Digital marketing is a small-business owner’s best friend, so while it’s hard to stay on the tech curve, you can still keep abreast of how to use digital marketing vehicles to your advantage.

 

In many cases, social media has become the brand experience where customers truly expect to connect. Because there are so many outlets available, don’t try to do it all at once. Start with the big sites first, see if they make sense for your brand, and then expand from there.

Get friendly on Facebook. With over a billion profiles it’s hard to neglect thinking about how to create a brand presence there. This is where friends, family, and your biggest “fans” come to listen to what you have to brag about. There is a cap to how many friends you can amass, so consider creating a public page that is limitless. Facebook is all about loyalty, so use it as a place to post pictures, give updates, promote new initiatives, or simply interact with your biggest fans. It’s one of the best outlets if you want to keep up with your most loyal customers with regular information they will be interested in. That is, of course, if your regular customers use Facebook, which is a simple question you should ask yourself before you begin any social media program.

Show your business savvy on LinkedIn. You will want to create a professional profile on LinkedIn to connect with all the people you’ve professionally come into contact with over the years. You can network with each other, share professional advice, and even recruit new talent. LinkedIn is all about work and working your network of colleagues.

Speak up on Twitter. Twitter is the place where you can exhibit thought-leadership in your field with others who share similar interests, whether you know them or not. It’s about having a voice in what you do, and paying attention to others who you admire. You can learn a lot about how to advance in your field of choice via Twitter.

Engage viewers on YouTube. For me, YouTube is all about pop culture. I use it to keep up with what’s going on in entertainment, which happens to be important in my line of work. If video content is something that works in your field, then consider starting a YouTube channel to create content for your customers. You can then feature this video content in your other marketing as well.

Give Customers a place to be on Foursquare. Foursquare is location-based, allowing users to “check in” to share their whereabouts or to collect special offers from local businesses. If your business relies on traffic to thrive, then Foursquare could be a good vehicle to build it.

Look pretty on Pinterest. Many brands are now just wrapping their heads around how to use Pinterest. If your customers are visually oriented and if your business can be captured in images, then consider using Pinterest to represent what your brand is all about. You can also learn a lot about your customers by viewing their Pinterest boards as well.

This is just a sampling of the bigger social media sites, and there are certainly others without a doubt. I recommend that you start with these, and then move on to others as you expand your social media presence. It’s important to use a few wisely and consistently, rather than racking up profiles that you don’t really leverage with your customers.

Also remember that any of these sites can be an effective tool to learn about what motivates your customers and about what your competitors are doing to connect with them. All of them provide “free” market research 24/7, because they are where your customers are living their lives and sharing what moves them. Learn from them!

By Jim Joseph, Author of The Experience Effect (AMACOM, 2010) and The Experience Effect for Small Business (Happy About, 2012)