Leaders and executives in organizations, business or expertise domains often face common issues around innovation, global competiveness, unanticipated market disruptors, or policy and regulatory concerns.
Companies or institutions wanting to engage and hear from their executive customers or leadership constituency, often utilize formal, in-person forums and gatherings. These gatherings are structured with a topical agenda, and include a set featured speakers to catalyze conversation at the event. Often a written, but lifeless summary of the proceedings is developed and distributed to the participants sometime afterward, but the energy and enthusiasm of the event has long-subsided.
Attendees may be stimulated for a day, make an interesting connection or two, but have no way to sustain the collective interest and dialogue on the topics and areas of interest as a result of their participating in the event. Nor is it easily possible to generate more organic, sustained group dynamics of idea exchange. Once the event has disbanded, companies sponsoring these executive forums also then find that they, themselves, don’t have a way to continue to actively listen to these important voices in their customer or constituency group.
Collaboration for Leaders
Many companies or organizations would benefit from developing an executive engagement program that includes a strong online community component - with a model that is importantly differentiated from the typical company-to-customer dynamic.
Supporting the collaboration of leaders amongst themselves can lend real value to a company’s executive customer relationships or help an institution evolve with and more deeply engage its constituency base.
Partnering Strategically with Leaders
By providing online community resources to foster and support peer-to-peer online engagement of leaders in dialogue and collaboration on the important issues of the day, a company offers several areas of real external and internal value. An online community can:
- Support access to the power of online collaboration in a professionally relevant way – by offering this experience, one is providing an opportunity for leaders to learn and engage in ways that a younger, millennial generation understands intuitively.
- Build credibility - the community effort is an expression of a commitment to relate as a strategic partner, authentically invested in the aspirations and concerns of a leadership community
- Support extended conversations - an online community, especially coupled with in-person forums allows the attendees to more deeply engage with one another in a sustained fashion.
- Become a valuable shared resource -- As the community dialogue grows, as information and best practices might be shared, the community itself becomes an increasingly valuable resource to its members. And very importantly, allows the sponsoring company or institution an opportunity for active listening and learning.
An online community approach, integrated effectively with one-time forums or a cadenced sequence of live events, can help develop and sustain authentic relationships with that leadership constituency and generate a deeper sense of loyalty and trust.
Next week I’ll explore some key elements of developing and supporting leadership collaboration.