Charlene Li recalls talking to an executive who didn’t see the value of social media, citing the “silly stuff” that occurs there, such as people posting photos of what they’re eating.
“I don’t want to share my lunch,” the executive told Li, founder/CEO of Altimeter Group and author of the best-selling books “Open Leadership” and “Groundswell.”
Her reply: “I absolutely agree with you. I don’t care what you had for lunch. But what I would care about from you, as my leader, is what you talked about over lunch.”
That, she says, is the value of using social media as a leadership tool: Sharing what’s important to you as a leader.
“We care about what our leaders want because we want to be part of the success,” Li says. “So instead of trying to guess what they want, let’s hear from our leaders more often. One benefit of social media is that it makes it so easy to share.”
Li will explain how to become an engaged digital leader in a keynote address at the America’s Credit Union Conference in Seattle June 26-29.
It’s crucial to do so, she says, because digital and social technologies now are at the foundation of how people communicate and, ultimately, form relationships.
“Leadership is about relationships,” Li says. “Digital and social tools allow us to connect with people even if we never talk to them or see them, and maybe have never even met them. In spite of this, these relationships can be incredibly deep and meaningful. We’ve learned to use these tools to develop empathy and trust.”
Leaders who fail to use or leverage digital and social tools may lose their credibility, Li warns. Too often, leaders pay lip service to the need to embrace the digital and social realm—“we must go through a digital transformation”—but they won’t do so personally.
“They’ll often say to me, ‘that’s not my job; that’s marketing’s job or my digital team’s job,’” she explains. “How can you have someone else go through a digital transformation when you won’t go through it? Your credibility suffers.”
The reluctance of some leaders to embrace digital tools often is based on fear and unfamiliarity—they don’t know how to tweet or what topics to blog about, or they don’t think others care what they have to say.
Put those thoughts aside, Li advises, and start by listening. “If nothing else, you look smart when you say ‘I was looking at Twitter and I saw this conversation,’ or ‘I was reading through some LinkedIn columns and I’m really concerned about this.’ So even if you’re not prepared to share and engage, you can begin to engage with these tools by just listening.”
Social and digital technologies will continue to evolve, but the challenge remains the same: Determining how people use these tools to connect with each other and how people use technology to enrich their relationships.
“If you understand the context of that then you can begin use these tools to further your leadership goals,” Li says. “It’s not about what these tools do but how they help develop and deepen relationships.
“If you have the right mindset, that you want to be engaged, you’ll run at these technologies because you recognize the opportunity.”
Li, an avid reality TV fan, is especially hooked on the long-run show “Survivor.”
“It’s a physical challenge, but in the end it’s a fantastic social game,” she says. “I also love it because there’s a huge social community around it, too. The host live Tweets through every broadcast, so I two-screen it when I get a chance to watch it live.”
►Experience Seattle at America’s Credit Union Conference 2016
America’s Credit Union Conference isn’t just an opportunity dive into crucial issues and witness inspiring keynote speakers—it’s also an opportunity to explore our host city of Seattle. This year, we have tours planned of several Seattle landmarks, including noted wineries, lakes, the Future of Flight Aviation Center, and more.
Bill Merrick is deputy editor of Credit Union Magazine. Follow him on Twitter via @CUMagazine.