[Enter Student Name]
[Enter University Name]
In this essay, I am going to explore to Nicholas Christakis’ ideas and theories surrounding the influence of social networking. Specifically, I am going to give a brief overview of his ideas presented in his Ted Talk, connect the important ideas presented in this discussion in relation to making connections in the workplace, and finally relate these ideas to my particular social intelligence and strength.
In Christakis’ discussion, he began by stating that he was first interested in the widowhood effect, or the idea that many times spouses very quickly die after the death of their partner (Christakis, 2010). However, what he found is that it is not simply limited to spouses. Individuals can be effected by the death of a friend, or a friend’s friend, and the ramifications go beyond simply couples (Christakis, 2010). After discovering this, Christakis’ became incredibly interested in social networks. First, he began researching connectedness of obesity. Put simply, Christakis was interested in whether or not there was a correlation between individuals who were obese and the probability that their closest friends were also obese. Christakis stated that there was an incredible correlation – if your friend was obese, you were 45% more likely to be obese (Christakis, 2010). But what is even more fascinating is that Christakis found an individual was 25% more likely to be obese if that friend’s friend was also obese, regarding of whether not the individual actually knew the friend’s friend (Christakis, 2010). After discovering this, Christakis began considering what this meant for people, their happiness, sadness, and other emotions. Ultimately, what Christakis eventually found was that social networks have incredible value (Christakis, 2010). Christakis stated that social networks form a type of social capital that is a direct result from our embeddedness in our social networks (Christakis, 2010). Further, he stated, that our experience in the world fundamentally depends on the structure of our network (Christakis, 2010). All of these findings have huge implications for the importance of social networking within the workplace.
I find that the idea of social connected is incredibly important in the workplace. First, one of the modern leaders in leadership discussion and teaching, John Maxwell, suggests that a company is a directly reflection of their leader (Maxwell, 2007). What a company values is a directly reflection of the values of the leader. This directly correlates with the ideas presented by Christakis. Put simply, what a leader exemplifies, whether it his or her work ethic, attitude, or perceived ability, his or her subordinates will be more likely to mimic those behaviors. If a leader is excited about the work he or she does, the company is more likely to be excited. If a leader is burnt-out by the role, pessimistic, or generally unhappy in the role, the group is much more likely to exhibit those behaviors. To use Christakis’ language, the leader’s social outlook great impacts the workplace’s social network.
Another lesson from this to take from our discussion of Christakis is to consider what this means for our habits. We are often told growing up that the habits we form are incredibly important, and that it is better to learn good habits early rather than develop poor habits. Christakis’ research supports this notion. If you as an employee are working hard for a company that you truly believe in, you are much more likely to positively influence those around you in the creation of their own good habits. Your hard work can absolutely impact the work ethic and quality of those around you. Put similarly, understanding that your social network is so incredibly important, it is best to surround yourself with hard working employees because they are likely to impact your work ethic and your own habit creation within the context of the workplace environment.
Further, it is incredibly important to surround oneself with positive people in the work environment. As Christakis’ example shows, if your peers and close networks are happy, you are more likely to be happy (Christakis, 2010). The same parallel exists within the workplace. If an employee surrounds themselves with excited, passionate, and motivated peers, the individual is more likely to be all of those same positive attributes. When it comes to performing well for an employer, it is my belief that a positive attitude is an incredibly important precursor to good work performance. On the other hand, if an employee surrounds themselves with someone or a group of people who is and who are constantly gossiping, being negative, pointing out inconsistencies, and being generally critical of the job, then that employee is going to find themselves being more negative and critical. If an employee is significantly more critical and negative, this will impact the work that the employee will do. Ultimately, I believe that employees want to be happy in the role that they are in, and surrounding themselves with other happy and motivated people is a huge first step in gaining satisfaction from any job.
I personally identify with developing others and teamwork in regards to social strengths. I believe that these correlate themselves well with Christakis’ theories. First, if an employee seeks to develop his or peers, it shows that there is a level of care and concern for the fellow employee. The social network of the workplace is boosted by this level of care and concern. It creates the opportunity to make others happy, which in turn has the potential to make people of a third and fourth degree from you happy as well. Further, in much the same way that if one surrounds himself or herself with positive people it makes that person more likely to be positive, if an individual is boosted and professionally developed, it will likely make the rest of their peers seek professional development and increase the overall
In regards to my strength of teamwork, the student by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis supports the idea that teamwork is important in being a good leader. Specifically, Goleman and Boyatzis state that, “researchers have found that the leader-follower dynamic is not a case of two (or more) independent brains reacting consciously or unconsciously to each other. Rather, the individual minds become, in a sense, fused into a single system (Goleman and Boyatzis, 1).” This is an incredibly realization because it supports the idea that decisions that impact an entire group of people, whether that group is a large company or a small group of entrepreneurs, should be made as a collective with the leader valuing the input of each and every member of the community. This changes the idea of a leader being someone that makes decisions on behalf of a group to a leader being someone that facilitates decision making in an almost Socratic-method style conversation. Again, this correlates specifically back to Christakis’ findings – someone that feels more connected with a group makes the overall group stronger.
In conclusion, Christakis’ discussion raises incredibly important discussion points for not only leadership within the workplace but also for whom we surround ourselves with. Ultimately, we have great ownership of not only the type of attitude we exhibit in both our own workplace lives but in those we surround ourselves with as well. The social network is a constantly evolving and adapting superorganism, and we each play a massive role in the creation of the social network (Christakis, 2010). If we want to be both productive and happy in life and in the workplace, it is incredibly important for us to surround ourselves with those that are happy and productive in their own workplace and life.
Christakis, Nicholas (Speaker). (2010, Feb). The Hidden Influence of Social Networks.
TedTalk. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_christakis_the_hidden_influence_of_social_networks?language=en
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership. Harvard Business
Maxwell, John. (2007). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People
Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition). New York, New York: Thomas Nelson.