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How creative and engaged are senior and other leaders in leveraging the opportunities that come with social technologies? Do they utilize them to create an agile culture, innovate communication and build a brand for themselves and their functional domain?

Leveraging the opportunities that come with the social technologies requires leaders who know how to create compelling content that people like to respond to, and who excel in co-creation and collaboration—the new currency of the social media world. Equally important is a deep understanding of the nature of the various social media tools, and the dynamics they unleash, as participatory dissemination can be viral and is naturally hard to control.

In addition, it requires a sociotechnical infrastructure that by design nurtures continuous interaction across physical and geographical boundaries, and that enables self-organized horizontal discourse and exchange.

We call this interplay of new leadership skills and related organizational design principles Organizational Social Media Literacy (OSML).

Mastering this new set of capabilities will constitute a significant source of competitive advantage as we further progress into the 21st century. The mindset of leaders and managers is key. Without their engagement, employees won’t engage either. Organizational culture and capabilities are equally important. A rigid context inhibits the potential of social technology.