Announcing My New Book “The Engaged Leader”

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My work with CEOs and other leaders has proven time after time that the wisdom and experience a great leader brings to the table are the keys to making his or her digital transformation stick. Any one of the tens or hundreds of digital natives within your organization can teach you to use Twitter, but only you know how to use it (and other digital tools and platforms) to make your business stronger. As a leader, you are better than anyone at separating the signals from the noise and analyzing the emerging big picture.

I’m pleased to announce that my next book The Engaged Leader: A Strategy for Your Digital Transformation will be published by Wharton Digital Press on March 17, 2015, and is available now for preorder. The book was inspired by the many leaders I meet who confess that, while they grasp the need for a personal digital strategy that is as powerful as the one they have in place for their organizations, they are personally at a loss as to where to begin.

This means that while organizations are embracing digital channels to engage with empowered customers, leaders sit on the sidelines, hoping that nobody notices. I’ve heard a litany of excuses from leaders about their absence from digital and social channels, both internally and externally:

  • “I don’t have the time.”
  • “There’s no clear ROI.”
  • “It’s my marketing team’s job.”
  • “There’s no replacement for face to face engagement.”
  • “I can’t get too familiar to my employees—they won’t respect me.”
  • “Who cares what I have for lunch?”
  • “I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said.”
  • “I don’t want to get my company in trouble.”

These statements may sound familiar, either because you have uttered them yourself or have heard your leaders say them. Now, I am not advocating that all leaders have Twitter accounts. In fact, I have no problem if a leader is not active digitally—but only if it’s a conscious, strategic choice. For example, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has a Twitter account but has never posted to it. While Ginni and her team use the account to listen to the conversation on Twitter, she prefers to focus on engaging employees internally on several platforms. She’s constantly reading employee posts, sharing content, and engaging in discussions. From the start of her tenure, she strategically used digital channels to engage with employees in her efforts to push IBM in new directions.

Examples in the book include leaders from the following companies: Aetna, ANZ Banking Group, Cisco, Edelman, General Electric, Humana, IBM, Marriott, Save the Children, Telstra, and UPS. There are also guest appearances from Pope Francis and Barack Obama.

The framework at the heart of The Engaged Leader—listen, share, engage—serves as a template for leaders as they undergo their transformation. It grants permission to practice this new form of leadership and offers a roadmap for connecting directly with those we lead.

I Need Your Help

I’m always struck by the enormous generosity of those around me, and I humbly ask for your help to spread the word about The Engaged Leader. Here’s how you can help:

  • Preorder The Engaged Leader. There’s nothing like being able to say you are among the first to receive a copy of a new book—except when you can say you also received an additional bonus for purchase that book before it publishes. If you order by March 16, 2015, you will receive the opportunity to join my “Ask Me Anything” webinar on March 31, 2015.
  • Consider using The Engaged Leader for leadership training. Need to train your executives and managers on how to lead digitally? Order by March 16, 2015 to take advantage of a special offer.
  • Share The Engaged Leader. Here are a set of tweets, resources, and images that you can use to talk about the book. There’s also information on that page to request a review copy. I’m happy to do an interview for an article or podcast as well.

For more information about the book, including these special opportunities, please visit charleneli.com/the-engaged-leader.

New Book: The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy

I’m very proud to announce the publication of an eBook that I co-authored with Brian Solis, entitled “The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy“.

Based on research as well as real-world experience with our clients, Brian and I found that there are common characteristics of successful social business strategies, the most important one being a laser focus on achieving business goals. In fact, the most successful businesses are those with an executive who can articulate the vision and strategy roadmap almost as well as the social strategist. [Read more…]

Book review: The End Of Business As Usual by Brian Solis

My colleague Brian Solis has just published his latest book, “The End Of Business As Usual: Rewire The Way You Work To Succeed“. I was so excited to finally hold the book in my hands, especially after months of having talked and worked with Brian about the ideas in the book.

This is not a book about how to use social media. Read Brian’s last book, “Engage” as it’s an excellent primer with detailed how-tos. Rather, “End of Business” seeks to explain to executives and leaders who aren’t engaged in social media how connected customers are transforming business as we know it.

Written from the point of view of the connected consumer, the first half of the book looks at phenomenons ranging from the evolution of social networks into personal operating systems to the rise of social commerce. If you read Brian’s blog, you’ll recognize Brian’s fingerprints all over these chapters — rich examples, clear explanations, and always a sense that Brian is at your side as a trusted guide.

But I found the most valuable insights in the second half of the book where Brian becomes prescriptive about how businesses need to approach business differently. In particular, Brian makes the case that you must evolve your business to become “adaptive” to the connected consumer. He’s evolved his call to action from “Engage or Die!” to “Adapt of Die!”. I quote from the book on what is different today:

“The pivot of any business is not whether it can reach consumers, it’s the reality of whether consumers, especially connected customers, wish to connect with them now and over time.”

Brian lays out how a business needs to rewire for this new reality, one that turns away from being internally driven by a strategic plan to one that is guided by an entire organization centered on creating a magical customer experience — and importantly, customer relationship — with these connected consumers. Thus the hallmark of an adaptive business is that it will shift and evolve as an organization, from top to bottom, to be responsive to customers. The last three chapters resonated the most with me, as they layout the framework for an adaptive business, how to evolve your business to shift from rigid to adaptive, and the future evolution into predictive businesses.

You can read more about the book at endofbusiness.com. Other resources:

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DZ9XAzwhlA

Brian’s post: http://www.briansolis.com/2011/10/announcing-the-end-of-business-as-usual-the-new-book-is-available-now/

Jeremiah Owyang’s post: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2011/10/18/adapting-to-radical-changes-in-business

Groundswell Paperback: A Look Back Three Years Later

Groundswell NameplateThree years ago, Josh Bernoff and I proudly launched our book, Groundswell. To our astonishment, it has sold more than 100,000 books and now a new, updated paperback version is available (links below), with two new chapters on how to use Twitter and social maturity.

A lot has changed over the past three years – in May 2008, Facebook and Twitter were still nascent and the iPhone had no apps! To address this, Josh added a new chapter about Twitter. But the theme of the book — that you have to focus first on the relationships created by social technologies (and not the technologies themselves) – still resonates today.

At the same time, very little has changed. One of my favorite examples in Groundswell is how Dell responded to one of their notebooks spontaneously bursting into flames in June 2006. The chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, wrote a blog post titled, “Flaming Notebook” that linked to a photo of that laptop on fire. Talk about guts! That was five years ago, and as a whole, organizations still lack the maturity to be able to truly engage in an honest, authentic dialog – despite their adoption of social technologies.

Groundswell has a new chapter discussing social maturity and Forrester published a report this week on the topic. My organization, Altimeter Group, has done research and consulting on this, as have agencies like Dachis. The fact that so many people are chiming in on how to address social strategies is an indication of the strong interest. But the fact that so many organizations are still treating social as a marketing and messaging channel demonstrates that we still have a long, long way to go.

A key reason why I wrote my second book, Open Leadership, is because leaders could viscerally feel the change that social media was causing in the pit of their stomach – and they lacked the framework to understand how to think, act, and lead in a new environment where relationships were being formed in these new channels. Leadership is built on relationships, and leaders in general have failed to grasp this change.

Groundswell

But by far my favorite part of the new paperback edition is the quotes from readers describing the impact Groundswell has had on them. It is the most gratifying and humbling experience as an author to know that your words have had an impact. I love it when readers show me their books that have been highlighted, dog-eared, and filled with post-it notes. (This photo is from Elizabeth Gebhardt, who showed me her book at an event in 2009.) And I am especially awed when people tell me that Groundswell inspired them to start new jobs or even careers because of the inspiration they got from the book.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of the readers of Groundswell, and I hope to all of the new readers that you find it just as relevant today. It has been a joy hearing from you over the past three years and I hope to continue growing the relationship we’ve begun!

Where to buy the Groundswell paperback:

Last chance to enter the Open Leadership Awards (plus a bonus)

A final reminder that the Open Leadership Awards submission process is drawing to a close. There were some problems with the Web site and submission details, so we are extending the deadline to Monday, September 13th at 6pm Pacific Time for submissions.

And I’m offering a special bonus to the first three organizations to submit an entry — a free one-hour call with me. So don’t wait until the last minute –take advantage of the opportunity to connect with me one-on-one and submit ASAP!

Entering a case study is easy — go to the Open Leadership Awards site where you can get detailed information and submit a case study. You’ll be asked to register and provide basic contact information before you see the submission page.

The case study submission has four required essays:

1. Long description (500 words or less). Describe an example of open leadership where the organization enabled better, more open relationships with either customers and/or employees. Include specific examples of the use of social technology enabled more open information sharing and/or decision making.*

2. Leadership (500 words or less). Describe how a person(s) affected the outcome of this program. This can be an individual’s initiative, a supportive executive, or person on the front lines.

3. Impact (500 words or less). How did this program add value to the organization? Impact can be quantitative or qualitative, but there needs to be proven impact. Example: % of employees engaging with customers increased from x to y over the last six months.

4. What have you learned (500 word or less). Describe the journey the organization took, especially how you overcame the obstacles and failures along the way.

In addition, there is a Short Description (100 words or less). This is a summary of your submission. You will also be able to include a URL as well as upload materials such as photos, videos or presentations.

Any questions? Send an email to openleadership (at) altimetergroup (dot) com.