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Follow the Leader: Should CEO's Become Social Leaders?

Follow the Leader: Should CEO's Become Social Leaders?

Very few would not have played, or at least heard of the game, ‘Follow the Leader’ as a child. In addition, the term has been popularised in many contexts besides a game.

The expression ‘Follow the Leader’ is still very valid in today’s business world when it comes to social media, including enterprise social networking.

Two excellent blogs we recently encountered point out that CEO’s and other business leaders can play a vital role in encouraging and stimulating the use of social media, both within organisations and generally, for a variety of very well founded reasons. This, in turn, has multiple benefits from many perspectives.

The first blog entitled ‘Leaders are responsible for bolstering Enterprise Social Networking’ by Caldwell Partners makes a valuable observation by pointing out, that unlike social networking generally (on sites such as Facebook and Twitter), that the majority of Enterprise Social Networks are not used regularly by employees.

Caldwell reasons that given people’s enormous appetite for social media, that support of social enterprise networking sites (such as Mumba Cloud) should also follow the general trend of large external social networks. Caldwell believes that this is not happening because CEO’s and other business leaders do not set the right example and are often inactive on social networking enterprise sites.

A ‘Do as I say not as I do’ attitude prevails and is resented, to a significant extent, by the workforce, according to the writer.

Vital areas that emerge in this blog include the fact that:

  • Leadership participation is crucial when it comes to successfully integrating corporate social networking into an organisation. In this regard it is postulated that many leaders feel they lose ‘executive distance’ and power by engaging with staff
  • Leaders should listen and pay attention to what staff are saying on corporate social networks. This should be followed by meaningful internal communications and collaboration
  • CEO’s and senior management should share information from the top down. This makes staff feel that they are trusted and in the loop
  • The workforce should be encouraged by the C Suite to share their vision of how situations can be streamlined and improved, on a regular basis

The second blog entitled ‘5 reasons CEO’s should be social leaders’ by Scott Guthrie covers similar ground but from a broader social media perspective, rather than focusing on internal communications.

Guthrie’s sources claim that the reason most CEO’s don’t utilise social media as much as they should is not because they lack the skills but rather because they prefer to allocate time elsewhere and believe that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

The 5 key reasons Guthrie believes it essential for CEO’s to become active on social media are:

  • To clearly convey what a brand stands for in terms of its culture and values
  • To engage with stakeholders in two way conversations
  • To obtain real time, honest, feedback from all stakeholders
  • To provide organisations with a more ‘human’ quality and to change the emphasis from sales to problem solving
  • To interact with their audience at those times when the audience is most ready and comfortable to communicate

The potential of CEO’s and other business leaders to enhance social media interactions and add considerable value across many groups of stakeholders and channel types is very evident from the perspectives covered in this posting, for which we thank the valued contributors.

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