The Center for the Future of Organization
Today I am excited to share the news of my appointment as an Executive Fellow for the Center for the Future of Organization (CFFO), an independent think tank at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University in California. Its mission is to serve as a global hub for applied research and practical discourse on new paradigms of Leadership and Organization with special regard to the role of social network technologies as drivers of competitive advantage.
My work with CFFO is designed to complement my ongoing professional efforts building a consulting business specifically aimed at social leadership communication because I believe that leaders really matter, and armed with social communication savvy, the good ones can do amazing things (and the bad ones can inflict terrible ruin).
Study after study has shown that ‘communication’ is rated as a more important skill for leaders than ever before. Communication prowess has become a critical asset for CEOs. At the same time, digital has become the key driver of almost all public domain communication. Polls prove that social media has become the top threat to a leader’s image.
Unfortunately many leaders are struggling with digital disruption and they have not become comfortable telling their story using online media. Yet if they know how to do so, I think they can be much more effective tackling the challenges and opportunities of social technologies.
Many risk-averse bosses are afraid of making social media mistakes, and they don’t want to look dumb about digital in front of their subordinates. Their absence from social media creates an information vacuum where too many top people are not effectively communicating in a way that enhances reputation and builds trust in their leadership.
Meanwhile, inside many organizations, social media has been commandeered by advertising-oriented people who are using digital to sell stuff to consumers and focusing on metrics like ‘reach.’ It’s obviously fine and dandy to use online channels for marketing, but nowadays brands are expected to communicate like people. So what about social media for the corporate communication of the c-suite executives who personify the company?
For leaders, social media should be about public relationships with stakeholders, custom connectivity and listening with real people, understanding their emotions, channeling their ideas, sensing their sentiments, rallying them to shared purposes.
It won’t be too long before social media savvy becomes a CEO job requirement, so I believe that now is the time for organizations to invest resources in the leadership communication function. This will serve c-execs well, and ensure that bosses won’t become loser leaders who learn about social media the hard way by making needless mistakes when inevitable crisis situations occur.
Overall what we have here is a ‘social’ communication skills gap, and an opportunity for executives to leverage digital media to signal their leadership to all the people important to their success.
Perhaps that sounds plausible on the surface, but there is such a research vacuum out there, and many ‘insights’ in this space are more valid as click-bait clichés than as prescriptive tools that organizations can actually use to build new social communication structures of lasting value.
This is why I am so excited about joining the CFFO team, with its customized research projects and think tanks, executive education and advisory, and special role as a global virtual platform for knowledge development and exchange.
On a personal note, I am really excited about collaborating with CFFO’s Founder and Director Dr. Roland Deiser, who co-wrote this seminal article on the Six social-media skills every leader needs, which I understand is the most-downloaded article in the history of The McKinsey Quarterly.