ROI of Leadership Transformed by Social Media

|   Feb 10, 2012

Glenn Llopis, a contributor for Forbes and former C level exec admits to initially being skeptical of social media and it’s value for business. His latest piece touts social media’s importance and claims it is vital for leaders today. Llopis writes, “…your ROI is directly related to your thought leadership activities and the manner in which you allow social media to play a role in sharing your voice and POV.” His insistence on asking questions like, What kind of leader are you? assumes that the world wants to know.

Remember the old PR rule? “If you don’t talk about it, someone else will.” Prior to social media, conversations were taking place in industry publications, at conferences, events, or even around the water cooler, at happy hour, and on the golf course. It was PR’s responsibility to control messages about the company or the company’s opinions, as well as HR’s responsibility to control internal communications and company culture. It was a broadcast out, one way form of communication and certainly not so public, transparent, and open to debate, discussion, and commentary.

Social media has opened new channels for which friends and families can share and connect, but now has become applied to the workplace. It has fundamentally changed the way leaders, companies, and employees communicate. Llopis makes the case that leaders who do not adopt these new channels, will no longer be relevant. These channels have been already been established and the conversations are already happening. Llopis states, “this is how Generation Y employees are evaluating their leaders in the workplace. This generation doesn’t care about your title. They care about your contributions. They are easily turned off by leaders that focus on themselves and create unnecessary noise. This generation values leaders based on the positive, sustainable societal impact they can create. Equally as important, Generation Y employees are careful about how they evaluate a leader’s intentions and whether or not she can be trusted.”

If you’re a leader reading this post, it’s likely that you’re already using some kind of social tool or exploring their potential impact on your company’s efficiency and collaboration. Many leaders, as noted in the Forbes article, have taken the internal social media leap as a way to monitor and gauge the company’s morale. Whether you, as a leader, look at social media as a necessary evil or a powerful new opportunity for workplace communication, its impact is real and other corporate leaders are taking part in the phenomenon (as an example, read about Nokia’s ten year collaboration history and the role of CEO Stephen Elop here). Your industry, your community and your organization wants to hear from you on this subject – and the world is watching.

Follow @GlennLlopis


  • Hi Terra,

    I might have misunderstood the post, are you saying that employees evaluate their managers based on their LinkedIn profile and their tweets nowadays?

    If that’s the case, then I certainly do not agree with you. In fact, many high level managers have a hidden linkedin profile in order to avoid the question: “are you looking for a job?”

    Commented on February 11, 2012 at 5:24 am
  • HI PM Hut,
    Yes and no. You may have misunderstood some of it, but you may also disagree as well! I was writing in response to Glenn Llopis’s assertion made here –> where he even notes that someone was fired for not being on social channels. I also do not think he is referring to Linkedin as a mere resume tool, Linkedin has grown to be a social site where one can share articles, posts, ideas, etc.
    I do not think a manager has to be on Linkedin to gain respect of employees at all. What I was drawing from this article (with my own spin on it) was that prior to social media, conversations were still going on, but was much more difficult to control it. Now, leaders have the ability to manage the morale of the team, stay connected to those who may be many levels below them, troubleshoot any problems or negative incidents, as well as encourage and offer recognition to their employees in a very public way.
    The millennial generation respect thought leaders and those who idea share. It offers a way like none before, to build that reputation. (Another reason why major profiles, celebs, etc. have someone helping manage their social output.)
    Thanks for your point of view. It’s great to receive feedback!

    Commented on February 14, 2012 at 11:41 am
  • In a way both of you have valid points. Leadership strikes a direction and course and the message to the company is about what course has been struck. Management’s role is to affect a positive outcome of that direction and communicate that value within. The message hasn’t changed the avenue and tools have.

    Commented on February 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm
  • L Kay is closer to the point. I think that the point of this in a corporate setting is that the new social tools have offered a “pull” form of distribution rather than a “push” model. I still think that executive leadership needs to straddle a tight line between sharing/broadcasting and sharing insider information, strategy, or trade secrets/IP. What social media may offer is a way to interact with other levels in the organization to give leadership the “I’m in the trenches with you” vibe that might help corporate culture and moral. Due to laws and regulations within the business world, anything that they publish online (in any format) should just be regurgitated information from other communication tools. Smart employees will realize that and not expect anything different from their higher ups. If it helps them have more belief in their executive management if they use current forms of communication, more power to them. It is not a do or die at this point. I think Llopis’ assertion is adapt or die. I think his message should really be, “learn to use these mediums or risk the inevitable weakening of your message/voice.”

    It be what it be…

    Commented on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm
  • Social Media has definitely opened new channels for conversations and getting new business contacts, but is it worth it? We get new friends from social networking, but are they of any use to us?

    Commented on July 31, 2012 at 8:55 am

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