This may be because CEOs are busy people who are accustomed to delegating hands-on tasks to others.
But one thing they can’t, or rather shouldn’t delegate, is how they project themselves to others. People are always interested in other people, what they may think, believe, do and say. Bosses are no exception. Effectively demonstrating leadership is about communicating oneself, not just a bunch of key business messages.
The art of powerful leadership communication is about knowing how much of oneself to share with others. Different leaders may share more of themselves than others. How much each will share should involve taking some risks and trusting the people one may be sharing with.
Social media offers a variety of channels for chief executives and senior managers generally to engage with others. In the case of channels like LinkedIn, this can be formal and structured, although even there CV formality is not the best way of capturing attention. Other social channels are a lot more informal. Twitter and similar short message channels also require some skills about keeping comments short and catchy.
Even internal engagement can be done through social media. Yammer is a good example of a tool that can be used within a corporate environment, keeping outsiders away from comments and discussions.
Yes, social media involves a time commitment, not only for posting comments but also for encouraging feedback and engaging with that. Leaders who do this well are respected by those they’re engaging with. Their social capital will grow considerably, as will their levels of respect and trust.
At the moment there is a handful of CEOs who are actively engaging through social media and a very large number who aren’t doing anything at all.
If CEOs are nervous about what to do and how to do it, I am certain that within their organisation, particularly in a communication team, there are some people who would be more than willing to provide ideas, support and encouragement. Some CEOs may even have partners, sons and daughters who can offer advice. The rest is up to each CEO to do as much as they feel comfortable doing.
It helps to start with an idea of the space that social media can open up as well as some of the potential risks, but specific destinations can be hard to reach, particularly if one isn’t marketing products or services.
The “right” way of using social media is about doing what works best for the person doing it. That’s going to involve taking some risks. The best way to learn is to dive in.