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Why leaders do use social media

Increasingly, many more leaders will take up blogging and tweeting. They will have little choice. In some sectors, leaders are being actively encouraged to take part. For instance, I have seen that CEOs in the British National Health Service (NHS) are actively encouraged to make use of social media and are being given online tutorials to enable them to take part.

Many other public sector leaders I know who do blog are enthusiastic. For example, Nick Baird is Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), which is a government department working with businesses to aid their success in international markets. He says that tweeting and blogging have made the world more ‘cheerfully anarchic’:

‘I believe that as a leader you need to tweet and blog, which I do all the time. It helps you to understand that as a leader you aren’t in control of everything and it enables you to be informal yet frank. It puts an even greater premium on authenticity. There are times when I blog on a subject and sometimes all of the reaction to it may be people complaining or whingeing about issues only vaguely related to my subject. This is good, though, because it gives us sight of issues that are bothering people and which we can then do something about.

I am not in favour of trying to put disciplined frameworks around the use of social media, because I think that we can adapt and adopt new ways of exploiting this cheerful anarchy that it offers us as organizations.’

Throughout this book I have been talking about how leadership is about showing more of yourself, revealing more of your character to your followers. I’ve talked about how leaders seek to make connections and actively listen. I’ve talked about the importance of conversations that create choices and a better future. I’ve talked about the importance of inspirational content in the form of a compelling vision and motivating stories. I’ve urged leaders to always look to form communities of interest and give those communities context and meaning. Finally, I’ve suggested that leadership is about encouraging collaboration in new and different ways to drive progress and create a more inclusive organization.

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