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Leadership in a Digital World

By the DynaSis Team

For the final article of 2014, we thought it would be interesting to share some thoughts on leadership. A few decades ago, a major component of being a great leader was leading in your physical space―being in touch not only with your employees but also their work environments and activities. IBM CEO John Akers was praised for the way he left the executive office and walked around his company’s facility, connecting with workers in their own spaces.

With the advent of the digital era, leaders must deal with a new dimension in “connection”―the digital one. Many business experts conjecture that great leaders now must also be champions of the digital world, and some of the most respected, beloved CEOs are doing just that.

Following are a few ideas to help business owners expand their reputation for leadership and engender loyalty, respect and admiration among their employees, peers and customers.

Be Social

No one expects or wants a company owner or president to post on Facebook all day long, but having a social media strategy is an important part of leadership. Despite this fact, reported in 2013 that 68% of Fortune 500 Company CEOs have no social media presence.

On the flip side, Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson, who has been named Britain’s most admired business leader of the past 50 years, has 4.5 million Twitter followers. The brand value of his social media following is incalculable, and the “cool” factor he has garnered from his efforts isn’t hurting, either.

In January 2013, an Economist article asked the question, “How can you be a leader if you don’t have followers?” Branson’s success certainly offers solid support for this argument.

Treat Digital Communication as a Gift that Comes with Strings

Digital communications such as email, the Internet and social media have empowered businesses and connected them with their customers in ways never before possible. Great leaders in the digital era recognize this fact and direct their outcomes in an honest but thoughtful manner.

The digital world makes it easy for CEOs and other business owners/leaders to connect with their employees, vendors and customers, sharing professional insights, thanking them for their support and more. The double-edged sword of this reach is that an ill-timed or inappropriate comment, even in a “private” forum such as a closed Facebook group, can leak out to the world.

The potential to cause damage or spark controversy is likely what keeps CEOs and other leaders off social media. That’s unfortunate, because the good that can be done though digital communication is undeniable. Genuine, well-considered, respectful communications won’t offend anyone. Try a few, and see.

Speak in Your Own Voice

For leaders to garner respect and love from their customers and employees, their blogs must be authentic expressions from their own perspective. This doesn’t mean they have to write them with no help. Some leaders simply are not good writers.

However, blogs, social media posts and other communications shouldn’t be left solely to a communications team, either. The business owner/CEO should at the minimum approve topics as well as the “tone” that any series of communications will reflect.

The reality is that digital communication is unavoidable, and leaders can show their fearlessness by conquering this space with composure and poise. Ownership of the digital world will become more important with every passing year, as the upcoming Millennial generation enters its prime work years. Millennials are intimately connected and in tune with all things digital―and they want their leaders to be, as well.

DynaSis recently authored a white paper about the challenges of attracting the new generation of workers, which involves not only having leadership that appreciates digital communications, but also taking a proactive approach to technology, mobile device usage and management, and other imperatives for this group. The white paper is complimentary; to request the download please give us a call.

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