Social leadership and why the C-Suite has to go social – Interview with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt


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Today’s interview is with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt, co-authors of a new book called: A World Gone Social: How companies must adapt to survive. They join me to talk about their book, the challenges that they see many firms facing, how to address these challenges and why customer service is not only an issue for whole organisations but is also a leadership issue.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Find and fix customer problems by hiring a Customer Advocacy Manager – Interview with Carey Smith and Dave Waltz of Big Ass Fans – and is number 123 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

A World Gone Social

Highlights of my interview with Ted and Mark:

  • Their work concentrates on helping leaders go from an industrial age management style that they probably learned in business school and from their mentors to a more social leadership style that they talk about in their new book.
  • This book is not about social media.
  • This is a business leadership book, a ‘how to’ if you like, that aims to help leaders adapt and thrive in this new social age that we are in.
  • The biggest difference and challenge for leaders these days is that nobody has been taught how our leaders how to respond to the new demands on them.
  • Authenticity, the ability to communicate to everyone at all levels and social responsibility are becoming leadership competencies.
  • Gone are the days when it is acceptable to only resort to broadcast tactics when a crisis happens.
  • Now, we expect to see the CEO stepping up, getting on social media, acknowledging that there is a problem and stating this is what he/she is going to do to fix it.
  • It requires firms and their leaders to be a lot more open, nimble and accountable to their customers and their stakeholders beyond their investors.
  • Ted tells a story of IBM that is epitomizing this type of agile organizational approach where they are leveraging their 400,000 employees and teaching and empowering them to go out and build the brand and advocate for their three main business areas every day on social media and in their broader lives.
  • SAP with it’s 66,000 employees is now following in their footsteps and Zappos with it’s 1,500 employees has been doing this for some time now.
  • If your employees aren’t willing to advocate for your business then how can you expect your customers to advocate for you.
  • Extreme Networks (formerly Enterasys) are also cited in the book as a firm that is leading the way. Vala Afshar has been a guest twice here on the Rare Business podcast. (You can check out his interviews here and here).
  • Extreme Networks punches above it’s weight against their main competitor, Cisco. In fact, Cisco spend more money on marketing each year than the total revenues of Extreme Networks. Yet, Extreme Networks continue to compete and often beat Cisco in head to head competition.
  • Building this type of organization and the leadership that goes with it starts with a culture of trust.
  • Northern Telecom and Taco Bell are doing amazing things on social, are building that trust and their own communities.
  • Taco Bell is not building a community around tacos. It’s building a community that is centred around brand loyalty, customer service and treating people right. Their community is not about the food.
  • Ted and Mark’s top piece of advice for companies that see the change that is required and want to continue to be around beyond 2020 is: The C-Suite has to go social. They have to start listening to what is being said about them across all channels, including social media.
  • Leaders surveyed in their book believe that this ‘social’ competency is going to be one of the top 5 leadership skills in demand in the coming years.
  • Leaders at all levels should start small but get it done. They should also empower others in their teams to get started too.
  • The most successful leaders that embrace and embody this style of leadership never, however, asked for permission. They just started.
  • Is it better to ask for forgiveness or permission?
  • Start small, generate some results and then start to talk about it.
  • O.P.E.N. (Ordinary People Extraordinary Network) is a concept in the book which epitomizes the social leadership style, where leaders don’t have to have all of the answers but they will have the network that can help them find the answers that they need.
  • You’re value as a future leader will be measured by how valuable your network is and how willing they are to help you.

About Ted Coiné

Ted CoineTed Coiné is co-founder of Switch and Shift, a leadership community that believes organizations – in order to thrive in the Social Age – must build trust-based relationships, lead with purpose, and enable employees to do work that matters.

A noted blogger and speaker, Ted was recently named a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer.

Ted lives with his wife and two daughters in Naples, Florida.

Say Hi to Ted on Twitter @tedcoine

About Mark Babbitt

Mark BabbittMark Babbitt is CEO and Founder of YouTern, a social community for college students, recent graduates and young professionals that Mashable calls a Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career.

A prolific blogger and speaker, he is also President of Switch and Shift and a co-founder of

Mark is the father of five and a grandfather; he and his wife call Seattle home.

Say Hi to Mark on Twitter @MarkSBabbitt

Finally, check out the book’s website at

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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