The article entitled “adapt to recover” published in The Bookseller spurred me to think more deeply about the leadership challenge facing UK publishing and how the technology that is so fundamentally changing customer behaviour might actually be the tool our leaders need to embrace to lead change more effectively in their organisations and in the industry.
I make no secret of the fact I am a long time fan of Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson. Michael claims that Twitter “is maybe the greatest leadership tool ever invented.”
I go a long way to agreeing with this and believe that in hard times, when things are not going so well, a leader's influence needs to be stepped-up and that a CEO’s ability to influence people inside and outside the organisation in order to drive change is perhaps the single biggest challenge of their career. The need to convey the direction of the organisation, update on what is going on and to rebuild a strong team are all critical to the future success of the company. Teaming needs to be aimed at building a corporate community with a purpose and communities are built on relationships which in turn are built on conversations. Therefore, any tool that helps articulate and extend the reach of the leadership message is going to be instrumental in driving change.
Intrigued to see which UK publishing CEOs are using social media platforms for more effective communication, I ran an experiment on Twitter. Using the “Find People on Twitter” function, I entered the name of a few randomly chosen UK CEOs and was shocked by the number of blanks I drew.
I asked myself 2 questions:
- Why are so many CEOs in our sector in the UK failing to use Twitter? and
- Why would any employee follow any leader who is so out of touch with reality?
I assumed the problem might be that UK CEOs don’t know about Twitter or that they don’t understand the value of the tool and how it can help them influence others. Or perhaps the English culture of reserve and our inability to feel comfortable with personal communication is the obstacle. Or perhaps it’s the brand name Twitter and its inherent perceived flightiness and insubstantiality that turns UK CEOs off?
Regardless. The point is that in hard times CEOs need to double up their efforts and muster all the influence they can if they are to drive the scale of change needed for the industry to align with customer expectations. Failing to embrace social media as a tool of influence is pure pig-headedness. Forgive me, I don't mean to be belligerent and to show that I have given this a degree of thought, here are 5 justifications I can think of that should spur our industry's thought leaders to adopt social media as part of their leadership communications:
1. As Michael Hyatt says, "people are voyeurs" - they like to look inside - pulling back the curtain on your thoughts and tweeting about things that are happening at the company: successes, attempts, failures, effort, challenges and opportunities builds interest, relationships and trust.
2. A leader that tweets and blogs humanise the face of their company - this allow leaders, employees, authors, customers and stakeholders to stay connected and share a more personal experience though tweets and feedback.
3. Regular realtime communication from a leader allows all stakeholders in the enterprise: employees, authors, investors and suppliers to feel the new energy, momentum and buzz pulsating at the heart of the new business as it moves forward, embracing new business practices and products (plus it removes the need for the soulless, periodic and out of date email updates)
4. And there is something about the act of listening to others and believing in things others promote that makes a leader an even better leader. Following other people on Twitter is a way for a leader to stay on top of trends, get an early read into topics and gauge early opinion on major initiatives and events.
5. Finally, microblogging is a great communication tool for busy people who are constantly on the move (think Richard Branson) - it’s instant and it enables micro communication with followers no matter where you are. I do hope blogging about these 5 influences will help persuade more leaders in the UK publishing sector to adopt social media as part of their communications. Please leave a comment or share your ideas and, if you locate leaders in UK publishing that are active social communicators, please Tweet me, I'd like to follow them!
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