With no less than five generations now present in the workplace, from Traditionalists and Baby Boomers through to Generation Z, there are a wide range of expectations and opinions when it comes to the digital business.
But, one thing that never changes is the importance of leaders being seen and heard. These days, that means online visibility as much as walking the walk in a physical office. There are certain fundamental changes to these expectations though, brought about by, you’ve guessed it, the digital way of working. Below is a video explaining where leaders sit in our Social Business Maturity Model© and read on for our Top 10 Tips to becoming a social leader.
From IT As A Department To A Fundamental Foundation
Aside from the sheer volume of data that needs managing in today’s average business, the role of IT, and the CIO in particular, has grown from a departmental head to a major cog in the business strategy machine.
Today’s IT decisions go far beyond auditing what percentage of the workforce has the latest version of the software.
Tribal Top Tip #1: As a leader or member of the C-Suite, you should be aware of the impact of the right investments in digital capability. Your relationship with your peers, including the CIO, needs to be open and honest with discussions taking place as to how the business can evolve and grow through the right online and social media strategies. Acknowledge the change.
Tribal Top Tip #2: Be social media savvy. Recognise that your teams are on social media and that the business is represented there, no matter your own opinion of it. Not having a presence means you are not a part of that element of your business. Does that sound like the role you want to play?
From Formal Frameworks To Collective Communities
The biggest shift in social media usage in recent times stems from the fact that we live in a world where leadership is no longer synonymous with authenticity. People will be far more likely to trust the review or account of an individual or employee than that of the brand itself. This has led to a boom of thought leadership and advocacy style activity across social media channels. Normal people are the new influencers.
Tribal Top Tip #3: Jump on the bandwagon. This is no longer about broadcasting brand messages, it’s about building relationships, playing out your corporate values online, leading by example. While brands are far less trusted on social media, research from Brandfog suggests that 70% of people feel executive engagement on social media leads to brand trust.
Tribal Top Tip #4: Social businesses are proven to achieve better results when it comes to sales and you have a role to play here, alongside your natural brand advocates. Your people are busy generating interest around your business, you can influence people right at the key point of purchase if you are a part of this effort. 55% of Brandfog’s respondents believe that social CEOs positively influence purchase intent.
From Knowledge Is Power To Lifelong Learning
Digital is disrupting more than the way we network and grow our customer base. It is changing how we value information. In the past, businesses subscribed to the school of ‘knowledge is power’, keeping their best knowledge, their trade secrets and winning best practice systems to themselves. Nowadays, people have recognised that being seen to know your stuff is all powerful. There’s a culture of sharing developing online, feeding people’s new hunger for knowledge and learning opportunities.
Tribal Top Tip #5: Show off your expertise. By becoming socially active, you won’t just create more opportunity for your business, you’ll improve engagement within your team and become a stronger leader for doing so. Check out ‘The Social CEO: How Social Media Can Make You A Stronger Leader’ by Damian Corbet to find out why, for the C-Suite, social media activity is do or die.
Tribal Top Tip #6: Reach out to today’s future workers. In his book, Entrepreneur Revolution, Daniel Priestly said “today’s teenager can sit in their bedroom and have access to more tools for building a global enterprise than Coca-Cola did when they grew internationally. Harness this for the future of your business by being accessible online. You’ve reached the top echelons of your career, now it’s time to help some others climb the ladder too.
From Listening To Living Brand Values
We’ve already mentioned the issues surrounding trust when it comes to leadership and brands. These days it’s ever more important to be seen to embody what you, or your corporation, stands for.
Hackneyed statements such as ‘we believe in excellent customer service’ or ‘excellence in everything we do’ don’t hold much water until they are proven anecdotally by existing customers or advocates of your brand.
When we talk about social media, the emphasis is most often on broadcasting content. But a successful social executive will also do a huge amount of listening.
Tribal Top Tip #7: Just as important as building your online profile is being aware of your customers’ needs and pain points. If you can keep these in mind and be ready to serve up just the right information at the right moment, you’re on to a winner.
As a member of the C-Suite you are in a position to further formalise this process by sponsoring an official advocacy program, where the ‘right information’ is available to everyone along with clear brand messaging which can be fed into the authentic posts being shared by your teams.
Tribal Top Tip #8: As a figurehead for your business, you need to be seen to be listening, and contributing, across all platforms. These days, our digitally native audiences expect no less from the companies they buy from and from those they work for.
From Command And Control To Trusted Authenticity
Social media, the great disruptor has changed something else that we’ve not yet considered. This time, it’s a fundamental of business hierarchy; a collection of behaviours we’ve worked within for years and years.
When we’re online, we’re no longer in charge. Not in the traditional sense of the term. Arguably, within the four walls of an office environment, we can direct people in what they say and do as regards their job. Social media has give a voice to anyone with a smartphone. And, when everything is based on opinion and personal experience, who’s to say what’s right and wrong?
Tribal Top Tip #9: In some ways, social media is forcing businesses to walk the talk. Anyone building smoke and mirrors around their ethics or their approach to business will surely be discovered, given time?
Be aware of the risks of things not going the way you planned them, but do it anyway. One example of a potentially damaging situation on social media relates to Air Asia’s Tony Fernandes.
With 1.5 million Twitter followers, the day his Indonesia flight QZ8501 was lost should have been a social media disaster as well as a real-life one. But, by taking an open and honest approach and not hiding away from reality saw him lauded as a social media trailblazer and gained considerable praise.
Tribal Top Tip #10: Recognise the risks, do what you can to mitigate them and then be prepared to own your mistakes. One of the main reasons we don’t hear more from C-Suite executives on social media, is their fear of bringing the brand into disrepute. And, let’s face it, it happens.
But having good, clear policies for your teams to follow, coupled with an authentic, human approach to how you interact will significantly reduce any damage that might be done. Advocacy works better when it is led from the top; employees are more engaged within social businesses and engaged employees will always deliver better results.