Social media is a new element of organizational existence proving to be too strong of a current for leaders to stop, so many are choosing to learn to harness it and find the benefits of using it (Tredgold, 2014, p. 9). As members of organizations are increasingly on social media using it as a medium for self expression, dividing the individual into work and personal versions is getting dramatically more difficult (Tredgold, 2014, p. 10). Leaders who think they can stop the usage of social media by their followers, may be making a strategic error.
Social media interaction is an emotional experience for many people, which means there is more attention paid to this medium of communication than emails, memos, and Powerpoint presentations (Kouzes and Posner, 2012, p. 149). Leadership is a performing art and social media allows leaders to make it a good show for followers to emotionally buy-in to (Kouzes and Posner, 2012, p. 150).
Rather than trying to stop the use of social media, leaders should be modeling effective usage, and train followers proper approaches. Since social media has increased people’s desire to be connected with one another; leaders should use it as a medium to be connected with followers, engage in constructive conversation, and invite followers to have insight into the personal life of their leaders (Tredgold, 2014, p. 9). Allowing such a high level of relational interaction in an informal medium provides leaders insight into departments of the organization as well as the individual lives of followers, which is hard to gain understanding of from formal channels (Tredgold, 2014, p. 9).
Social media channels make organizational endeavors such as networking, e-commerce, knowledge work, and open source innovation more accessible and less cumbersome since the baseline of social networking is ‘we’ rather than ‘me’.
Kouzes, J. M. (2012). The leadership challenge: how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Tredgold, G. P. (2014). Are you connected? Leadership in the era of social media. Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, 28(6), 9–11. http://doi.org/10.1108/DLO-05-2014-0032