Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Do Leaders Need to Use Social Media?

What is a leader today?

I was listening to a teleclass from Linda Bernardi from the Bernardi Leadership Institute and she said the word “leader” should be changed to “collaborative influencer.” The word leader, she said, brings up old experiences with authoritarian types, and that’s not what a leader should be today.

Leaders today, she emphasized, need to be able to engage their constituents in a cooperative manner with the intent to create an awesome customer experience together. A leader today needs to take advantage of the two-way conversations and transparency that social media channels provide. In this case, they need to be able to effectively text and blog, Facebook and Twitter, and do whatever it takes to interact honestly with their constituents: customers, employees, investors, lenders, vendors.

I don’t think a two-syllable word is going to be replaced by a nine-syllable one, but I understand what she is saying. There is a shift going on. Leaders are being forced, due to the internet and it’s social media channels, to be more transparent. If they want their company to be taken seriously by their customers and themselves to be respected by their employees, then they need to know how to engage with them on their terms.

Many of my clients eschew these modern avenues of communication. They say they don’t have the time, are not interested, and/or don’t like the lack of privacy. However, social media is not going away. It is getting bigger. They need to know that to be an effective leader today, they need to be able to carry on relevant conversations that show their knowledge of their topic, and their interest in their constituents.

A leader today needs to be a collaborative influencer both face to face and virtually. These skills are essential . The very definition of a leader is one who influences. And others won’t allow themselves to be influenced – or can’t – if communication is not in the form they use and expect.

Does your CEO use social media effectively – to influence collaboratively? Do you? How important do you think it is for your organization’s leaders to be able to use social media effectively in order to build trust, respect and business?

Are you a “collaborative influencer”?

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