Many of us are probably hoping to minimize our time online; executives should head in the opposite direction. By Craig Mullaney.
Few New Years’ resolutions come as a surprise. Cultivating a meditation practice, exercising more, using our phones less—how many times have we heard some version of these? Yet our advice for 2021 may come as something of a surprise: Every CEO should resolve to establish an effective social media presence.
Our research finds that by a margin of five to one employees would rather work for a leader who’s on social media. Similarly, we found 93% of financial readers expect to hear from a CEO online during a crisis, and 7 out of 10 people trust a CEO who’s online. This isn’t about leaders spending more time communicating—it’s about using that time to lead more effectively.
The most effective resolutions aren’t inspired by facts alone, otherwise our first reading of meditation’s benefits would see us become ardent practitioners. Instead, resolutions that succeed tend to have two ingredients: a spark and a system.
The spark ignites an awareness that the status quo isn’t acceptable: the heart attack that inspires a better diet and exercise, the explosive argument that leads to therapy. Last year certainly offered that jolt for the offline CEO. “The world has gone digital” more closely resembled an operational reality than a vague truism. Digital was how the most effective CEOs engaged their employees and spoke out against racial injustice. For most, leadership through a screen was the only option.
A spark awakens us to the need for change, but a system sustains it. “It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes in his bestselling Atomic Habits. “Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.”
In our experience, successful Connected Leaders can invest as little as 15 minutes of their week to discuss their weekly social media strategy and 5 minutes per day to engage online.