Herding cats – Leading in a digital space

This week’s WeNurses discussion was led by @NHSLeadership so leadership has been very much on my mind this week. The leadership discussion brought together 207 people over the course of the hour, which was a record for a WeNurses discussion, and they produced a phenomenal 2 tweets per second! So it’s no wonder that WeNurses was trending on Thursday evening.

herding catsThis discussion really got me reflecting on my own role in leading the online nurse community that is WeNurses.  I have often said that leading this community is a little like herding cats …. You just manage to corral one in and another one wanders off.  Leading a discussion in a real space with 207 people, all of whom have something to say, would be completely impossible – yet in a digital space it works.  Each person is heard on an equal footing and manages to find their own space in the discussion and the art of leading these discussions is to allow this to happen. With people wandering here and there and finding their own place but never the less keeping them on track is a bit of a skill.

During Thursday’s discussion @Bartontd shared this video asking “Who Needs Leaders ??”

worktogether2I immediately identified with this video and likened it to the Nurse Twitterverse and the discussions we hold. It appears at first sight as if all the people are just wandering aimlessly each only with their own purpose in mind.  However what soon becomes apparent is that this is a shared purpose and each person within the room is on an equal footing and working towards the same goal – and it works! Slowly but surely they achieve their goal.  So surely this video proves that leadership is not needed after all who is leading this exercise? Well I think this proves that leadership IS needed – as the leader is the person who was talking throughout the video! This leader was thinking a little bit differently and by giving this room full of people a shared purpose, a little encouragement, some inspiration and some confidence something magical happens and the whole group are able to reach their goal.

love herdThis video helped me to see how and why herding cats on Twitter every Thursday evening works.  The #nursecommunity all have a shared purpose (often as simple as discussing a predetermined subject) each person in the room has an equal voice and with a little encouragement, inspiration and confidence something magical happens …. Nurses come together across geographical and hierarchical boundaries, each person finds their own space in the discussion and with a shared purpose in mind our goal is reached.

Many thanks to @Bartontd for sharing the video that inspired this blog.