IntroductionToday I would like to talk about the type of skills leaders need to effectively harness social media to initiate, manage and sustain change. When I think about leaders, I can’t help but think of the images and words that were part of an Apple commercial developed years ago(next slide)
Trouble makers (Gandhi)
The round pegs in the square holes (Lennon)
The one’s who see things differently (Jobs)Apple’s Think Different commercial summed them up in such a simple way – leaders change things. Each one of these individuals have pushed the human spirit forward, but without the use of social media. However, they exhibited qualities every leader should possess or cultivate. These qualities are part of the four dimensions outlined in Peter Koestenbaum’s leadership diamond. But I’ll get to him and that shortly.Leadership revisited – notes/points from previous day’s speeches. Peter Koestenbaum’s Leadership Diamond neatly and succinctly summarizes the body of knowledge on the subject …and the essence of all that transpired yesterday. To better understand the catalytic power of social media in the the context of transformation and leadership, we should perhaps briefly review the thoughts of DrKoestenbaum. (next slide)
According to Dr.Koestenbaum, at one time known as the Sage of Omaha, the best leaders operate in four dimensions: vision, reality, ethics, and courage. These are the four intelligences, the four forms of perceiving, the languages for communicating that are required to achieve meaningful, sustained results. He breaks down the dimensions accordingly:Vision – the ability to think big, think new, think ahead. Reality – the ability to grapple with hard, factual, daily, and numeric parameters. Ethics- this dimension represents a higher level of development, one ruled not by fear or pleasure but by principle.Courage - it involves the capacity to make things happen. Courage involves both advocacy -- the ability to take a stand -- and the internalization of personal responsibility and accountability – something that Gandhi demonstrated through his numerous hunger strikes and willingness to go behind bars to force the British out of India.Dr Koestenbaum opines that the combination of these dimensions in an individual, makes one a well-rounded leader. I believe it prepares leaders to introduce and manage change effectively, and is the essence of yesterday’s discussion on leadership. (next slide)
When we talk about change, we understand that it is constant and at times, unpredictable. It’s evident in everything that has happened and is happening in the world. For centuries, communication between individuals and communities has continued to evolve. In fact, that has been the single most powerful driver of social change.From the days of carrier pigeons to having a phone in your room, we’re now in an age where communication is mobile, seamless and enables users to obtain instantaneous information.It has served to lubricate the spread of ideas while the diversity of voices… of opinions and viewpoints on any one topic or issue has served to simultaneously enrich and challenge social interactions. So what are some of the new realities we as leaders face now as a result of the new kid on the block a.k.a. social media?Let’s do a couple of quick comparisons:(next slide)
Traditional media vs social/new mediaExplain slideBut by no means do I suggest social media is the be all and end all of external facing communication. It has to work in tandem or sit side-by-side with established channels, thereby you have a holistic, integrated approach. You extend your footprint, your presence is felt across multiple touch points. This ensures you have the right conversations with the right people at the right time and space.Here’s an example of what I mean: (next slide)
I assume everyone is familiar with the Best Job In The World campaign.Tourism Queensland wanted to raise the awareness of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.So the agency created a job ad for an Island Caretaker.They didn’t just rely on classified ads in newspapers, they used online methods as well to take the message across and the results were phenomenal as you can see on screen.International blogs, websites, media all carried stories about this campaign, thereby extending their footprint - something Tourism Queensland would not have dreamt of.It took the message to a global audience, got millions of people talking about it and applying for this dream role. Coming back to my point, social media has its purpose yet is one part of the equation to change the way we communicate or provide information to others. It has to work with established channels.Next comparison, social media has the ability to empower people and organisations. (next slide)
SpokespeopleOrganisations do not need to rely on one or two people to relay information or news out to the media or public, in a traditional sense.Thanks to social media , everyone is now an opinion leader, a spokesperson, a representative of the organisation. The conversations are taking place so fast, that information gets out into the public sphere as soon as they happen. Besides, organisations are not at the mercy of media outlets or journalists to pick up a media alert or release. You can now draft a story or article and publish it straight to a social network without relying solely on traditional methods to take a message to a wide audience.
As a result of social media’s role in changing the way everyone puts out or receives information, people are listening more intently to the conversations that are taking place within organisations, they may tweet about it, and then expect a quick response. Social media operates with such speed, we make it a point at Immigration to go back to client enquiries on Facebook or on Twitter anywhere between 60 minutes and close of business.Another thing about social media is that it breaks down silos.No more are things going to be centralised, the playing field is changing so much that it’s best to move towards a decentralised structure with any form of online engagement, that way you have subject matter experts in the thick of conversations rather than appointing one person or unit to manage all interactions. At Immigration we are developing a network of social media champions. This person would act as our go to person for campaigns, ad hoc posts or any initiatives that require a social spin to it. This form of cross collaboration is a currency in the world of social media.Because social media has influenced so much of our world, practitioners need to consider developing or refining competencies in: (click) Word of mouth engagement(click) Reputation management(click) Online community management (click) Crisis management(click) Influencer management (acquiring and maintaining those with high social clout)(Next slide)
From a government perspective, social media participation enables agencies and departments to:Be transparentBe engaging – the ability to not just broadcast, but to strike meaningful conversations with clients and stakeholdersProvide informationCorrect misreportingAnd act on a crisis quickly.Social media also allows governments to instantly take ownership of a conversation, by positioning themselves as thought leaders, either by leading or contributing to existing conversations.From our perspective, it allows us to be authentic, humanise the work that we do (with the use of Instagram for example), and as mentioned before, correct any misreporting quickly.These, as well as some of my earlier points illustrate just some of the ways social media is and can be harnessed.There’s also a push in some circles to be more open with data and take on more community consultation using mobile apps or social networks.
Given the development of increasingly sophisticated communication devices and protocols, the sequence of events leading to or catalyzing major change will no longer come through traditional airwaves managed and fitted into predictable news or time slots.
Gone are the days where people only relied on traditional methods to obtain information. Today, information is readily accessible by everyone. Broadcasting a message is just one part of the equation. Narrowcasting, the ability to target a message to a particular group of followers, fans, tribes, is now part of the process to ensure messages are effective in reach. The consumer, the client, everyday people are now empowered to voice their opinions on various platforms. With social media, their voices are amplified. Likes, shares and retweets are just some of the tools people use to get their message across, or throw their support towards a particular issue or cause. So how should leaders cope with the democratisation of the digital world? What should they do when everyone has an opinion on everything and every opinion is published instantly? Leaders who are or whose organisations are active in social media need to be readied, be personally and professionally prepared to survive the onslaught of multiple voices coming from all directions. This also holds true for those who are thinking of making the leap into social media.Furthermore, leaders need to be ready, able and willing to separate signals from noise. For example, you need to know who to engage with and when. A basic rule is that you should strike a conversation with an individual who has enough social clout to either influence their followers or has the ability to amplify your content to audiences you may not realise exist. Let’s talk examples now. From what I’ve mentioned so far, social media lubricates the spread of ideas while the diversity of voices… of opinions and viewpoints on any one topic or issue has served to simultaneously enrich and challenge social interactions. And leaders need to have the vision and courage to harness it effectively or risk being exposed, damaging their reputation to the point of no return.
Obama’s Yes We Can election campaign in 2008 broke new ground by using social media as a powerful political tool. It created an expansive Internet platform, MyBarackObama.com, that gave supporters tools to organize themselves, create communities, raise money and induce people not only to vote but to actively support the Obama campaign. And the result? 13 million supporters connected to one another over the Internet, raising unprecedented sums of money.Yes We Can wasn’t just another election mantra. It was a statement confirming the collective power of the Obama camp. Everyone was actively engaged, calling friends to come to events, to learn, contribute ideas, and help out in some way. Obama continues using social media to this day. It wasn’t just an election stunt. The team uses it to conduct town hall sessions, hangout on googlehangouts, broadcast key events such as the state of the union address online. (Next slide)
What are a regime’s worst fears? Rich, open public dialogue on change and reform. When Egypt went offline in an assumption that the ‘kids on the streets will go home if you take away their toys,’ the effect of this error in judgment was akin to trying to slow down a speeding truck but accidentally stepping on the accelerator. Many of those who watched and participated online turned into fully blown “activists”, and joined the protests on the streets. What social media has created in this instance isan alternate space for reviving a dormant public consciousness into a sentient, dynamic social discourse.The Obama and Egypt examples are just two of the many different ways social media has been used as a catalyst for change. There are others of course, such as the Occupy Wall St movement, and even how Boston PD became the single voice of truth for using social media to update the world about the capture of the Boston marathon bomber. Social media is a powerful tool, when used well, to affect change on a big scale. (next slide)
Change communication and leadership participationChange, whether national, organizational or personal is facilitated, expedited and enabled by high quality communication – accurate, timely, meaningful and relevantFailure to manage expectations and communication — i.e. by not creating a shared vision, gaining buy-in from stakeholders or monitoring progress leads to failure. These challenges may be addressed with social media and collaboration tools, the ability to connect people quickly, to create opportunities for them to share and learn and to monitor a collective conversation to see how well a change program is producing its intended benefits.John Kotter (Leading Change/Harvard Business School) is often cited as saying that 70% of change initiatives fail …most often for a single reason – the failure to communicateAmid the cacophony of exchanges across a social media platform, leadership participation is vital.Management has to keep everyone “on message” — by correcting misinformation,quashing incorrect rumors quickly and ensuring that the organisation’s tone of voice on social media is consistent.Without the ability to provide a “voice of truth,” social media can cause confusion and discontent to multiply at greater speed across the environment, which ultimately undermines change effectiveness.
The pulse of changeWhile surveys only measure how people feel at a certain point in time, monitoring and analyzing social media conversations enable leaders to see exchanges as they develop…and take the pulse unobtrusively. Insights gained through honest analysis help leaders determine what’s going well and where the pain points are.At Immigration, one way we do this is by monitoring the digital realm for conversations revolving around popular topics that fall within our portfolio. An Oracle product called social relationship management allows us to distil the chatter into clear voices so that we know who is saying what, how people are feeling towards a particular topic or announcement and we relay all this rich data back to our business areas, our executives and the Minister’s office for their info and action. This data is also used to adjust or improve the way we engage with clients not just on social media but across the organisation – whether it’s to do with a particular tool on our website, how key messages for communication campaigns are perceived or how we service our clients through contact centres. We’ve recently introduced this as part of our day to day operations but these are ways we can embrace the diversity of voices by acting or being proactive with the way we deliver services and implement policy.
A new leaderCapitalizing on the transformational power of social media while mitigating its risks calls for a new type of leader. Leaders need to develop skills in strategic creativity, need to be authentic communicators, are able to deal with an organisation’s social and political dynamics,and require a great deal of agility and responsiveness.Social media also requires leaders to create compelling and engaging content. It’s about co-creation and collaboration, and it is about understanding the nature of different social-media tools/platforms/channelsand the unruly forces they can unleash. Leaders must also take theirorganisation on the journey, obtain buy-in from relevant stakeholders and raise the overall awareness and competency levels of the organisation. These steps ensure the leader and the organisation are prepared to take the necessary measures to introduce and sustain a social media presence.In February 2013, the McKinsey Quarterly published an article that outlined six social media skills leaders need to cultivate. This is my take home message for you. (next slide)
Six social media skills every leader needs:The leader as a producer: Create compelling and engaging content. Be fully aware of the capabilities and limitations of your social networks to help you tailor or design your content. Design your content in such a way that it fully takes advantage of the technology and strikes meaningful, authentic conversations with your audience.
The leader as distributor: Take the time to understand how each platform works, how cross platform sharing works and what it is that makes content go viral. Remember, you can’t plan for something to go viral. It just does and sometimes for random reasons. It also boils down to your audience or followers. So make sure you have a plan or strategy to build the number and quality of your followers.
The leader as recipient: Managing communication overflow. The leader as recipient: Social media has created an ocean of information. We are drowning in a never-ending flood of e-mails, tweets, Facebook updates, RSS feeds, and more that’s often hard to navigate. Leaders need to separate signals from the noise to distill the conversation.As a first step, leaders must become proficient at using the software tools and settings that help users filter the important stuff from the unimportant. But it’s more than just filtering skills.In the social-media realm, information gets shared and commented on within seconds, and leaders must decide when (and when not) to reply, what messages should be linked to their blog or website, when to copy material and mash it up and what to share.
The leader as adviser and orchestrator: Promote the use of social media, its benefits across your organisation. Obtain buy-in from stakeholders to ensure they understand and see the value of social engagement. This will help especially if you require content and they require a cost effective communication outlet.
The leader as architect: Creating an enabling organizational infrastructure (example: SRM client service function)It’s interesting to note that IBM have noticed a 20% customer satisfaction improvement by companies using social. A vice president at Sprinklr, a social media management system, says 57% of consumers always go to social first to resolve an issue. We see that day-to-day. So naturally, we want to move in this direction to evolve the way we provide services or solutions to our clients.
The leader as analyst: Staying ahead of the curve, seeking out new ideas, learning from thought leaders, actively network with other departments and beyond the APS.By developing these six skills, it ensures leaders who operate in social media or are thinking of getting their feet wet are fully aware of the realities in this space and are competent to harness the catalysing power of social media to introduce and sustain change in an organisation. Couple this with the Koestenbaum leadership diamond and I believe, you will see meaningful and sustained results with social media.
Round upSo just to recap:Vision –think big, think new, think ahead. Reality –grapple with hard, factual, daily, and numeric parameters. Know your limits and the limits of the organisation. Some organisations are risk averse and not very open to social media. It’s natural when they’ve not been exposed to it, or think it’s just for the kids, that they may have the following doubts:How do I use it?What should I say?How often do I need to be on it?This is a reality that sometimes calls for a strong business case to convince management how to do it and do it well.Another reality that we should not lose sight of is managing the minister’s office. More and more ministers are on social media these days and pay close attention to the conversations that take place there.Ethics – operate with integrity, with principle. If you’re thinking of getting on social media, do it for the right reasons, and not because everyone else is on it. If there is a higher purpose – enhancing your service delivery or encouraging community consultation for example, then go for it.Courage - As leaders we wield the power to change things. Use it to see through your vision and make things happen.Thank you.
Leadership summit prem vasudevan
a catalyst for change
Social Media Manager
Department of Immigration and Border Protection