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During business change, the classic position is to have trusted leaders carry vital messages out to the business, but are we missing something by downplaying our workforce’s active social life and networks?

We instinctively know that the messenger we choose affects how well the message is received, but today’s workforce is hugely complex in its psychology, social life and how it likes to connect. This is further complicated by the myriad of digital outlets available continuously, making the separation of business and social more blurred than ever.

“Wait, what?! Are you serious?!! I sensed that was coming. What do you reckon will happen now?”

Personal experience backed by neuroscience tells us that if we can imagine someone as our friend, collaborator or champion, we’re more likely to want to work with them. Similarly, messages from friends or like-minded colleagues will typically get attention first, even before critical company announcements that are sent by trusted leaders.

This says a lot about how we need to construct and deliver change messages to today’s digital-age workforce and whether we have it right with traditional leader-led communications.

In the new world, power comes from connection and ability to influence through networks. For change managers (and leaders in general), the time to disrupt the leader-led communication model is now. Not only is it less aligned than ever with the social construct of organisations; the risk is quite simply that critical messages are not cutting through or worse, are being ignored.

Here are three prime questions to grab your attention straight away, even if you don’t consider me a friend or colleague:

  1. Are your trusted leaders part of the core social fabric of the organisation?
  2. How does your organisation give life to social networks? 
  3. Who are your new breed of change ambassadors with social clout that can achieve cut-through with key business messages? Especially when the stakes are high?