I’ve been thinking a great deal recently about leadership communications (in fact, I’ve been trying to write a book on the subject). Much of my attention has been focused on how communications in many organisations is still stuck in traditional one-dimensional mindsets. I’ve been writing about how the best organisations harness the power of social media techniques inside their operations. Not only are these channels much more effective at carrying messages but also they enable and encourage collaboration. Social media provides the opportunity to create flat, non-hierarchical organisations that swap status and bureaucracy for meritocracy and efficiency.

And then I had a thought. This is precisely what has been happening in parts of the Middle East. The power of social communications is to socialise and democratise information. The people in those countries used these tools to share and collaborate. And here’s the point: this is exactly what is happening in large organisations. People are bringing in their own tools and techniques, learnt in their private lives, and are using them at work. The effect is the same. They now have the information. They don’t need hierarchy and they don’t need leaders to tell them what’s important.

Business leaders have a choice. Embrace social media techniques and share information or pretend you can still control communication. If you choose the latter, beware the consequences.