Leadership: the battle for hearts and minds

Battle for hearts and minds

This year, the 9th September marked five hundred years since Battle of Flodden where over ten thousand Scots lost their lives at the hands of English pike men and James IV of Scotland distinguished himself, not just as a woeful tactician, but as the very last British monarch to die in battle.

Those were the days. If you wanted to fight a battle, you had to stand at the head of your army and risk your life charging into enemy lines. If you wanted a ‘special relationship‘ with another country, you had to marry a princess.

Five hundred years later things are different. Leaders no longer regard possible death as an occupational hazard. James IV announced his intention to invade England in 1513 a month in advance, in accordance with the chivalric code. Nowadays, armies do not line up facing one another at an agreed time and place, preferring to use stealth, shock and awe to traditional set piece manoeuvres.

Few of us ever face leadership challenges of such international importance, however, and our battles tend to be fought in the commercial marketplace. Battles are for hearts and minds and concern issues of attraction rather than destruction. Yet here strong leadership also counts.

New management strategies that are championed by the corporate generals are likely to be more effective than those introduced to a reluctant workforce by someone further down the chain of command. Our SociaLight research shows that companies which have succeeded in capitalising on social media opportunities have been led from the front. With the right attitude filtering down from the top, firepower has been directed in a constructive and measured way, so that social media is embraced by everyone as a crucial weapon in the arsenal of commerce.