If you haven’t followed Nick Howe on Twitter, it’s time. He is a social business champion and hero who just happens to be a genius. This superhero by day has a key role at Hitachi Data Systems , Vice President of the HDS Academy, yet by night is probably the most humble, coolest, geekiest and happiest guy you will ever meet. He embodies networked learning in every sense of the word. He engages his industry through storytelling, like at Jive World. He is foremost a business leader who challenges himself to think about the disruptive nature of social business through active listening. LISTENING you say? How many times has a senior leader in one of your organizations taken the time to really listen and not ‘pander’ to you? Recall and value your thoughts and ideas, synthesize quickly and give proper attribution? Well, I certainly hope the answer is yes, but if you are like many people, those rare and inspirational leaders are unusual, which is why it’s noteworthy to celebrate when we find the attenuate. In fact, his personal philosophy is simple: “make learning a priority, trust that people will step up to a challenge and acknowledge weakness as an opportunity to learn, versus a threat.”
As a business leader he is constantly validating or examining what he believes his and his organizations’ roles are to achieve company goals as a continuous process. Not just a board room exercise once a year. Yeah, that’s right – the infinite Loop. Just like great leaders before him have, he is in constant examination of himself and his impact on the organization, his colleagues and his customers.
What I found the most profound in interviewing him for this blog post was his deep personal commitment to being a collaborative leader, who builds alignment, invites people into possibilities and empowers them. He engages in detailed community conversations with great detail and critical attention to drive business results, yet humble in his overall approach and demeanor that is exceptional. To use my food metaphors, like a scarce chocolate with intense and subtle characteristics, rich in flavor and depth. This type of leadership is commendable, addictive and perhaps will become a contagion that spreads the learning fever. Active listening and reflection are paramount for social business leadership; in fact I would argue these should be key core competencies for leadership.