Technically speaking, it’s pretty simple to post and tweet your way to “leadership” in the digital age as today’s tools offer some of the best ways to craft an accessible, compelling leadership story.
Step Three: Create a Twitter account.
Step Four: Post compelling, humanizing, and funny videos on YouTube.
Step Five: Fill in your storied past with Facebook Timeline.
Step Six: Broadcast your travels and locations with FourSquare.
Step Seven: Curate your likes and dislikes on Pinterest.
Digitial media offers today’s leader an enhanced ability to control, construct, and “push” their own story with a carefully curated version of their values, identity, desires, hopes, dreams, and passions.
In addition, the ability to gather a multitude of followers can be pretty painless: the leader just needs to invite every friend, family member and mere acquaintance to tag along, join, and be their friend. Then, kindly, ask their collection of “friends” to pass the message along to their friends, family members, and mere acquaintances. But how many followers does it take to be considered an authentic leader? 500 likes? 3,000 tweets? 10,000 views?
In contrast to the old-style leadership strategy of one-way messaging, when a leader in the digital age steps out into the spotlight and places their life story out there for review they do so with the expectation of a two-way digital dialogue with their followers. However, digital media gives a leader’s followers a hands-on way to keep the leader “true” in a very public forum as witnessed by the multitude of fact-checking articles following each candidates’ debate performance this election season. These days a group of followers (whether devoted or hostile) has the opportunity to call a leader to task. The new reality is that it’s not just the sanctioned news media that has the opportunity, or the platform, to voice concerns, criticism, or praise.
So, those striving to be truly authentic leaders beware, inauthentic moments are ripe for the picking and can quickly call into question a leader’s authentic claims and polished persona. One recorded misstep or unaligned values moment and all of a leader’s authentic leadership qualities can be called to task and a budding reputation and/or messaging mojo damaged.
Whether on the grand scale of a public figure, or the smaller scope of a manager, coach, or community leader, every leader has an expanded responsbility in the dialogue around authentic leadership. In other words, the right story should also be the real story. These are not mutually exclusive values. What’s very clear is that it’s important to consciously walk the thin WIFI-wire between personal revelation and public realations.
Coupling this new found understanding with the author and businesswoman Charlene Li’s principles on “Open Leadership” creates a constructive leadership plan for managing the “push” and the “pull” of digital media. Li offers some basic guidelines for a active, two-way dialogue with constituents and followers, however, what she’s not proposing is a thoughtlesss dialogue.
Today’s leaders may have an ever-expanding assortment of new, shiny tools available, but in the end, it really all comes down to a very simple question posed by Li: What kind of relationship do you want?
When you have the answer, act appropriately.
Or, think before you speak, pause before you post, and never drink and tweet at the same time.