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Helen Green

Quest Leadership

Leadership Collaborator

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Embracing sociability


“Man is by nature a social animal.” Don’t take my word for it; that comment came from Aristotle and it has been echoed by philosophers and psychologists across the generations. Making his remark Aristotle went on to comment that society is something that precedes the individual, again highlighting the fact that people by nature work better in a group environment.

Mind you, whilst we are happy to quote Aristotle in some things, we wouldn’t necessarily agree with his follow-up remark to the effect that those who put themselves outside society are either beasts or gods. But he does make an important point in that sociability is built into the human genome. That’s why in times gone past the epic saga was seen as an important instrument in binding communities together with shared histories; and that’s why gossips, town criers, news publications and now social media have all been seen in their time as intrinsic elements of a sociable world.

And that’s fantastic; because when we communicate we share ideas and thoughts and feelings. You and I may never have met and yet something that I write or post online may affect your thoughts, or your outlook, or may help you with an invention or innovation process: and vice versa. And the great thing about social media is that whilst on one level it merely replaces the chatter or the newsprint of times gone past, on another level it enables people to expand their level of social interaction, potentially encompassing the whole planet.

You and I may never have met and yet something that I write or post online may affect your thoughts, or your outlook

Let’s face it, there are some of us in business who remember a time before social media, when telephones and letters were the prime form of one-to-one communications and when advertising looked primarily towards print publications, with TV and radio adverts being seen as the preserve of big business. But technology has moved on, there are now more millennials than baby boomers in the workplace and with Generation Z waiting in wings this is now the era of social media interaction.

Admittedly there are some aspects of social media which are unhealthy, but that accusation could be levelled at any form of communication which is misused. And admittedly there are some forms of social media communication that those of us who did not grow up in the social media age may find a little strange.

Witness the eleven-year-old talking to his sister sitting in the car next to him by messaging on his phone or the twelve-year-old schoolboy who submitted his chemistry homework in the style of instagram. But this is the world that they have grown up with and whatever generation we hail from, this is now the world that we inhabit.

Embracing the online and social world

So the challenge for businesses is to embrace the online and social world and to shape it for the good of the business, its customers and its employees. 

This means using technology not just in the creation of products but as a means to communicate, to add value, to share with customers. It means putting information and reports online as the first step towards a meaningful dialogue with investors. And it means incorporating social media and new learning technologies into daily work patterns in order to help employees to learn and develop.

  • Why have an annual appraisal when instant communications enable real-time performance reviews including the provision of 360 feedback?
  • Why have prescribed classroom learning when social media enables global learning groups to operate either formally or informally
  • Why learn in isolation when social learning delivers so much more in terms of interaction and understanding
  • and why struggle to master new skills when coaching on demand is available almost at the touch of a button

Our social world is now a millennial world. With it has come opportunities for using new media to stimulate fresh learning environments and methodologies. It’s up to us as leaders, as trainers, as business people to embrace social media and social learning as a way of delivering an entirely new business/customer/employee/investor dynamic. People are social animals, let’s create a social and interactive workplace.

Author Profile Picture
Helen Green

Leadership Collaborator

Read more from Helen Green

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