Leading networks, leading people

Originally posted at Alumni Global’s website

Leadership is mainly communication. The great leaders of history have been all noted to be great communicators; not necessarily good talkers, but truly good communicators. Being able to convey trust, a sense of direction, a better tomorrow requires the leader to communicate those ideas systematically and often. So in a world, where all the information is becoming more and more open, more and more available to those who seek it, why hasn’t leadership become more open?

When talking with CEO’s and VP’s of large multinational corporations, their response to the “social media question” is that “yes, our marketing department is very active with social media.” I am constantly surprised why the top executives have not embraced the possibilities social media gives them to communicate more and thus lead better. Imagine a corporate intranet, where the CEO posts systematic blogs about up and coming strategy work, trends in the market, encounters with clients etc. These thoughts will more than likely generate some discussion in the staff, and why not use that engagement to convey the message through? Most social media tools, whether it’s blogs, microblogs, twitter, picture boards etc. are all basically just a forum for communication. The communication method may be different in each forum but the basic principle is the same. Utilizing as many forums as possible, will give the executive a bigger impact in communicating his or her ideas to the organization.

The role of corporate internal social media increases the more spread the company is. Talking chit chat around the water cooler has always played a major part in personnel management. If the team is spread over multiple countries or even continents, social media will play the part of the water cooler. Open discussions should be promoted, ranging from big strategic thoughts and plans to simple personal chatter. Engaging the team around plans is a great way to commit them. Presenting raw ideas will generate ideas and comments in a situation where adjustments are still able to be made. Even if the comments are obvious, unusable etc. the commentator will at least get the feeling that he/she has contributed and will be much more likely to commit to the finalized plan.

The more information is published, the more open people will perceive the leader. Even if the published content is just nonsense, the trust towards the leader will increase. If you talk about the summer festivities and what kind of new corporate clothing should be acquired, people are much less likely to think that you have secrets, even if sensitive subjects, such as personnel matters, investor relations etc. are being discussed in closed forums. If nothing is discussed with the organization, they know that the discussion is being done elsewhere, without their knowledge.

The leader of today should communicate more. The leader of today should embrace all technologies and methods that help him/her to portray the message forwards. The best leaders of tomorrow understand, that transparency in decision making creates commitment and that is reached only through proactive communication and employee engagement.

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