Employer Branding

What Social Media Teaches Us About Leadership

I am really struck at the moment with how frequently leadership is cried out for in the media. According to the media, we are looking for leaders in our political worlds (now there’s a vain hope!), in our economic world (wherever that is!) and in our banking and fiscal management world (God help us all!). What really makes me curious is – what do we mean by this call for leadership?

What are we looking for in our leaders?

What do we actually want our leaders to do?

Because of the nature of my work I spend a lot of time around leaders in business so it is a subject that fascinates me.

Working with management teams in a wide variety of industries it does intrigue me that the perception of what good leadership looks like varies greatly.

For some, it is the General Patton style with all the charisma, rhetoric and powerful personality that goes with it.

For others it is the Mother Teresa approach, who leads by example and who she is. But, hey, the two are pretty different!

So, what has this got to do with social media?

Well, while this thought process was creeping around my brain, I was studying quite a bit about social media and the key elements in building a profile in that world.

Distilling quite a bit from various experts the general consensus is that the key ingredients are:

  • Build relationships
  • Share selflessly
  • Listen to the conversation
  • Engage with your audience.

In truth you can encapsulate it all in “building relationships”.

You can only build long lasting relationships if you do share selflessly, are a good listener and you continuously engage!

That was when I had my Eureka moment about the connection between leadership and social media, and how we must apply the same principles in both areas of our world.

You see leadership is not about the rhetoric, the eloquent speeches that can be quoted endlessly, the cries to battle that bring tears to the eyes or the charismatic personality.

When we cry out for leadership we are looking for someone that we can trust, someone that we can have a relationship with, someone who will listen to us and someone I believe is looking out for me.

So, what does this mean for me, for you, for all of us in our leadership roles?

It matters not whether we lead one person, 100 or 10,000 – the principle is exactly the same.

We must build relationships, share selflessly, listen to the conversation and engage with our audience.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t and it takes time, effort and consistency.

When I was being trained as a manager was much time spent on how to build real relationships? Not at all! It was all about setting objectives and measuring results – that was the order of the day. Sadly, it still is in many quarters.

That is not enough anymore. The people we lead are not just machines who churn out completed objectives – they are people with lives, dreams, aspirations, and problems!

If we are to lead these people we must understand all there is about them? How much time have we spent building that knowledge?

That’s right, building relationships!

We must turn the tables and not look at what they are delivering – we must look at what we are delivering to them. How are we serving them? How much time are we giving to them to help them succeed?

That’s right – sharing selflessly!

How much time are we spending listening to the conversation about our business? Do we listen to our people? Do we listen to our customers? Do we listen to our competitors (or maybe just eavesdrop!)?

That’s right – really listening to what they are saying!

Do we lead from a distance because we were taught all those years ago that “you must keep your distance, or there will be no respect” (God, what rubbish is that!)? Or are we there in the middle of what is happening and fully involved in everything that is going on?

That’s right – fully engaged!

So, my wandering into the study of social media certainly helps to clarify my thinking of what I mean by leadership and when I cry out for it, what exactly I am looking for.

So, when you cry out for leadership, what are you looking for?

By John Murphy

John Murphy is founder of JohnMurphyInternational, a specialist online coaching business. John specializes in advising and mentoring entrepreneurs and senior executives on how to build their business and be effective as a leader and manager.

Get helpful information and tips from John by clicking HERE.