The Growing Power Of One Individual

Humans have evolved to dominate the animal kingdom by our ability to problem solve, use tools for leverage, and to cooperate. Man by his very nature is a social creature. Our ability to bond with other human beings is hard-wired into our social behavior. It is this social bonding process that transfers knowledge and acceptable norms of behavior that allows our social communities to function and thrive. It is the growing influence of the one individual that will transform markets, business, industries, and the world.

As renowned author and speaker Dan Pink said in an interview with Clay Shirky Wired interview:

We have a biological drive. We eat when we’re hungry, drink when we’re thirsty, and have sex to satisfy our carnal urges. We also have a second drive — we respond to rewards and punishments in our environment. But what we’ve forgotten — and what the science shows — is that we also have a third drive.

“We do things because they’re interesting because they’re engaging because they’re the right things to do because they contribute to the world. The problem is that, especially in our organizations, we stop at that second drive. We think the only reason people do productive things is to snag a carrot or avoid a stick. But that’s just not true. Our third drive — our intrinsic motivation — can be even more powerful.”

It is this intrinsic motivation that has not been taken into account by many business leaders, especially in very large organizations. As much as 70% of employees within business organizations are “disengaged. In other words, the majority of employees do just enough not to be fired. These employees are not bringing passion or creativity to the day-to-day operations of the business. We need to tap into the individual employee’s “intrinsic” motivators. We need to do a better job of recognizing these motivations and nurture them to drive higher levels of performance in the relationship and emerging social business economy.

The Peer-to-Peer Economy

There are a number of trends that have developed the past few years that have made it self-evident that our post-industrial knowledge work has entered the “P2P Economy”.

#1 — “Markets are conversations”

#2 — “Ubiquitous broadband internet connectivity”

#3 — “Explosive growth in on-line social networking”

#4 — “Globalization of Products, Services, and Talent Acquisition”

Offline social networking has been a long-time business practice of “reciprocity”. Many people have been frustrated with the effectiveness of their social networking efforts due to a number of misperceptions:

  • “I need as many connections/relationships as possible in order to survive, thrive, or at least get a job!”
  • “I will get right to the point and ask for assistance with a new connection”.
  • “I am shy and do not enjoy proactively helping others or seeking assistance.”
  • “I just graduated from college. What Can I do to earn trustworthiness with more experienced thought-leaders?”

Social Networking provides a competitive advantage to the organizations and individuals that implement this time-honored practice. Since this is a practice, there are poor practices and there are best practices. Companies long ago began forming relationships with customers, suppliers, and competitors.

A Social Powered Business as defined by IBM

  • Engaged
  • Transparent (Allow people and culture to reflect your brand and your values)
  • Nimble (Speed, gain real-time insight and make quicker and better decisions)

The benefits to building a social business are higher sales and profitability due to trusted relationships and brand advocacy. There is not a large organization today that is not challenged by the lack of engagement from a great number of their employees.

With the ever more powerful communication tools available to individuals, we have the opportunity earn social power by influencing and supporting our selected social networks to attract opportunity and develop our reputation. We must find, create and nurture social relationships to help them uncover the best opportunities, jobs, and entrepreneurial ventures. The explosion of business and social networks places insular companies and individuals at risk of being left behind. Earning and accounting for your Relationship Capital (RC) is the currency of your social power. It is becoming a prerequisite for individuals, products/services, and organizations to prosper in the global relationship economy.


The business case for implementing social business practices and relationship capital metrics comes to down to maintaining your competitiveness when your rivals, clients, and partners are adopting new methods for directing business. There is a transformation occurring in the ways people communicate and leverage their social influence and it is this relationship capital credibility that accounts for this influence. Small business and solopreneurs must not only build their own relationship capital, but they must leverage others influencers to sustain and grow. The power of one individual to create a movement, a community, a sustainable business is more powerful than ever.

Originally Published on July 12th, 2016 on Linkedin Pulse

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