In the 1980's and 90's, most employees didn't know a thing about their leader outside of work. In the 2000's, it became more acceptable to know leaders on a personal level. Today, it's become the norm for employees to not only know their leader on a personal level but to be connected with their leader on social media.
The shift to a leader who is not only present on social media, but also an active contributor has become less of an anomaly and more of what the best leaders are doing on an ongoing basis. By taking this approach their people and others get to learn from them by reading their blogs, tweets, or watching a video.
Why is this important?
In order for a leader to get people to buy into their vision, they must first get people to believe in them. It's what leadership expert John Maxwell called the "Law of Buy-In." Need proof? Look at the countless "Social CEO's" and the impact they are able to have by being social:
- Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group posted "How to Cause Disruption and Create Change" and reached 140,000 people and famously said, "Embracing social media isn't just a bit of fun, it's a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business."
- Dara Khosrowshahi, the new CEO of Uber, posted Uber's new cultural norms which had over 6,000 likes.
- Jeff Wiener, CEO of LinkedIn posted his commencement speech at Wharton titled "Be Compassionate" which had over 12,000 likes.
- Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Companies wrote, "When Your Name is On the Building" highlighting the 5 values of their culture code which had over 3,500 likes.
- Bill Gates wrote, "5 Books You Should Read this Summer" which had over 37,000 likes.
I am more than aware these are all CEO's or former CEO's, but the same rings true from the C-Suite, to first-line management, to head coaches, to entrprenuers. If you lead a team and haven't been actively contributing and engaging with your people on social, here are a few reasons to get on-board:
To share expertise.
Albert Einstien famously said, "a life lived in the service of others is worth living." Passing on your knowledge and experience to others that otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to do so is a gift of service you should take seriously. This bits of knowledge could come in the form of an instagram post, a tweet, a long-form blog, or a video on LinkedIn or Youtube. The point is you find ways to share your expertise with others in an effort to help them be more successful.
To be human.
When leaders are social they get the opportunity to show they are human and can connect with their people on a human level. David Rubenstein once said, "What do most people say on their deathbed? They don't say I wish I had more money or I wish I worked more. They say, I wish I would have spent more time with my family and done more for my society and community." By being social, you can do more for your society, community, and the people underneath you. This can be done by sharing in big life moments to transferring knowledge that otherwise wouldn't have been transferred.
To connect with your people.
Whether you like it or not people are using social media on a daily basis. Which means there is a high likelihood your people are opening one or more social apps at least once a day. This provides a great opportunity to connect with them where they are already going if you don't get the opportunity to do it in person. This doesn't mean you have to be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for 4 hours a day, it just means you have to know how important the digital world is in many people's lives and go be active with them.
I have interviewed people like Casey Crawford the CEO of Movement Mortgage and Bill McDermott the CEO of SAP on the Follow My Lead podcast and one consistent pattern has emerged. The hardest part of any CEO's job is consistent communication. Social media provides an unbelievable medium to communicate with people across geographies, time zones, and demographics. While social is certainly not a private channel to communicate the most important internal working of an organization it can absolutely be used communicate important things like knowledge, life experience, vision for the team, or individual team member achievements.
To stay relevant.
Today's modern professionals are so connected they don't miss much. The best place to stay relevant to them is in their social feed. Take Gary Vaynerchuk for example. Not only is his offensive social media presence important to the growth of VaynerMedia but his team members see his content as well. Many leaders don't get as much one-on-one time with their people as they need to so showing up in their social feeds is a fantastic way to stay visible, relevant, and touch them on a regular basis.
To recruit talent.
Approximately 2 million people are graduating from colleges and universities this year and according to Statista, global internet users spend 135 minutes a day on social networking sites. Talent is the lifeblood of any organization and in order to recruit the best talent having a presence on social is a tool you must be using. Author Whitney Johnson told me on a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, "Get a reputation for developing talent and you never have to worry about talent leaving because there is always going to be more talent that will want to work with you." She is so right and the best part is if you are developing people, they will talk about it on social and you can too by highlighting people who have achieved under your watchful eye.
The great part is it goes beyond new people entering the workforce, using social can attract top talent from the competition to turn away from the dark side.
If you've avoided social media or dabbled in it lightly, but then never came back -- you're missing huge opportunities. I don't want to hear, "I am too old," or "I don't get anything out of it for me." Stay a student, learn it, and embrace it.