[February 19, 2014] I often get asked the question whether the growth of social media has had an effect on leadership. In short, the answer is YES. It has a great impact because the use of social media has changed the dynamics of communication.
Great communication is the cornerstone of executive leadership. The ability to send a message with clarity is one of the most important attributes of those who communicate well. The positive side to social media is that it allows us a forum to communicate better and faster than ever before. We can now send a message (text, photograph, video) to thousands of employees within minutes.
The downside is that faster sometimes means we do not always think through what we put out for everyone to read, hear, and see. More leaders get into trouble through inaccurate or inappropriate use of social media than any other single communications tool (including email).
And that is the essence of social media … it is a tool that amplifies the message. When used correctly and professionally, it is the best thing short of personal face-to-face interaction. Personal interaction however can never reach the magnitude of people as when we use social media.
When used in haste, social media can amplify our mistakes or unsuitable comments. There are also security and privacy concerns with social media. It can identify your location in real time; often without your knowledge. Social media can be abused also; for example, there has been an increase in “cyberbullying.”
Leaders need to be aware of the many benefits of social media, such as efficiency and ease of use. Yet, leaders must also be aware of the potential dangers as well. Schooling our employees on its use is the first start. The best advice for leaders is to be professional with the knowledge that everything you put out for anyone to see will be there for everyone to see anytime.
A good location for a summary of Social Media is here at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media