While those in leadership must understand and come to terms with the significance and impact of social media, including such sites as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc., they must take care not to become overly reliant in their usage in the mistaken belief that they can be used exclusively in lieu of other forms of communication.
Effective leaders realize that their members, constituents and followers generally have a variety of different backgrounds, preferences and orientations. While some may extensively use some form or numerous forms of Social Media, others often show very little interest in these forms of interactive communication.
In my over thirty years of training, developing and consulting to thousands of leaders, I have always stressed that effective leadership is dependent on thorough and comprehensive communication, and that great leadership demands using all medium at one’s disposal to enhance communication efforts.
1. Let me begin by stating that I believe that many aspects of Social Media are great. One cannot effectively lead today by not including an extensive utilization of social media into his armamentarium. Webster’s online dictionary defines armamentarium as “a collection of resources available or utilized for an undertaking or field of study.”
However, while much can be achieved in terms of communication using social media, including attracting marginally interested members, directing others to get more information, etc., it is not the be- all and end- all, in and of itself! Social media is a great tool when used in conjunction with other tools!
2. A great use of Social Media, especially Twitter, is to whet one’s appetite by directing them to relevant information. Effective leaders should create an informative and motivating blog to link to other Social Media sites, so that there can be a call to action.
I believe that of all the Social Media formats that Twitter has the most relevant usage for leaders of organization, because it can extend outreach beyond simply those one either directly knows, or knows via a “Six Degrees of Separation” relationship. Less committed leaders generally avoid the time consuming effort required for blogging, but one is not a real leader without that type of commitment.
3. Many individuals involved in leadership today also tend to over- rely on the use of email. I have witnessed innumerable occasions where emails kept going back and forth, with the related misinterpretations, delays, “lost in inter- space,” etc. issues, when a brief couple of minute phone call would have immediately resolved and/ or answered the situation.
While these people say they avoid telephone calls because it is too time consuming, “old school,” or intrusive, I believe that it is avoided because it requires many of these people to extend their comfort zones and commitment levels.
4. Studies show that texts are more successful than emails, because they get before more people. This should also be part of a program, that includes different mediums to serve different needs and markets.
5. In terms of communication, nothing will ever work better than face- to- face communication. Just as the exclusive use of the internet to replace mailings is an error because it excludes certain sectors, relying entirely on digital communication is also a mistake.
Social media is great, as far as it goes. There have been continuous upgrades to make it even more useful. However, wise leaders should be cautioned to avoid being overly reliant on any one method or medium.
By John Vaughan