The World in Your Lap – Leadership, Social Media and Authenticity

I’ve read a number of articles recently about whether it is a good idea for CEOs to embrace various social media platforms. One of the  latest to add to the debate is Richard Branson. In his article “Why aren't more business leaders online?, he quotes  IBM’s 2012 Global CEO Study which reports only 16% of CEOs use social media, and even then in a somewhat limited way.

At the risk of ruining my online reputation forever, I have to admit until a couple of years ago my own social media presence was a big fat zero.  Yes, I was on Facebook, mainly as a way to keep track of my kids’ whereabouts (much to their annoyance), but that was the extent of it.

Although I used the internet extensively in a variety of ways, and intellectually, I knew about social media and the purported benefits, I had not experienced using it.   I don't know about you, but I learn much better by experience (Carl Rogers, I’m a big fan!) and it wasn't until I actually used social media did I even begin to see the possibilities.

I networked offline, locally and nationally with people who were important around my day to day to business and with respected professional peers.  I always knew I should be doing more, but in-between loading the washer and preparing the latest downsizing report for the Board, I didn’t seem to have time.

When I decided to set up People Discovery, I realised I had to network online.  It was with some trepidation I got started.   I played with social media for a few months and just didn't get it, but once it started sinking in,  I was and still am amazed and heartened not only by the great people I've met along the way, but also because of the possibilities and  potential for social media .

If you are reading this, then you are likely a business owner, leader, or manager who is using social media; if so please pass on to some of your offline connections as a way to nudge them to get online. The list is not exhaustive and if you're a social media expert, then you may think there's a lot more to add.  This is simply from my own impressions from zero to now and why I think social media is a must.

Using a range of Social Media:

  • Widens your reach

It is global and local at the same time.  Because of the different ways you can connect with people over a range of applications, you can widen or target your reach as much as you need to.  What a way to get the right messages to the right people.

  • Flattens your reach

Suddenly you don't have to go through a hierarchy to reach the individual, whether a customer or an employee.  You can get real-time messages out on a grand scale. You can talk to 5 people with 10k looking on, getting your key message and meaning from what you say. Think of that as a potential for engagement.

  • Makes you visible

No more excuses about being unable to showcase who you are. You can demonstrate core values, aims, and objectives in a myriad of ways to suit all communication styles. From this perspective you can walk the talk and have the widest “open door” policy, easily and with little effort.

  • Displays your authenticity

There are risks to being “out there.”  When you are “out there” you make mistakes and alienate people as well as connect with them. By being willing, it shows you are authentic.  People respect you if you are willing to take the risk because you value connecting with them.

  • Makes you human

Personal choice and no right or wrong:  You can combine your personal life with business in a better way, by linking across platforms.  I’m not particularly great at this, although I've seen people manage it and when they do, it makes them human and likeable.

  • Gives you access to great information

Real time news and information race streams through. You can pick out relevant expertise, data, research, innovations, events, in a timely and targeted way.  Raises awareness and can help develop expertise.

  • Gives you unsolicited feedback

If no one shows an interest in what you have to say, or what you have to offer, it saves you carrying out customer and/or employee feedback surveys, doesn’t it?  Free metrics on most platforms can provide great information.

  • Encourages creativity

Access to the thoughts and ideas of a global community must at the very least give you some new ideas; at best, it can create a whole serendipitous sequence of events to get you where you need to be.

  • Gives you a head start as an employer

Can help you reach employer of choice status, get the right people, engage with your people, and keep the best.  Free learning platforms and information for your employees.

  • Low Cost

There is a cost, of course; it can be time-consuming and you must be fairly consistent. With the right set up advice and a ROI strategy, you can track how using it can make and/or save you money.

  • Keeps you ahead of the game

There is no doubt Social Media is going to change and evolve.  The possibilities are endless.  My kids connect via social media, naturally and effortlessly, as do their friends. Social media is changing the world. Be part of that change.

Christina is the owner of People Discovery – A New Paradigm of Inspirational Leadership, Management and Engagement –  If you’d like to discovery more about what Christina and Leadership Development, visit her website  Christina’s  e-book “The 6 Secrets of Great Emotional Intelligence – For Inspirational Leaders and Managers”  is available for free download.

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