When I think about the different companies I worked for in the past there is a strong correlation between the quality of the CEO and the level of engagement and excitement I felt being part of it at that time. I am talking about the ability of a CEO to convey in simple terms what an organization is all about, stands for and is trying to achieve.
Most CEOs are very good in communicating the company’s goals, strategy and direction to external audiences because this is what they always did, what the market and analysts expect and what influences the share price and market cap. But surprisingly some CEOs are not quite as clear with their most important audience, their own employees.
In my experience the clearer I was about the purpose and direction of the company the more I felt being an important part of it focused on what I needed to do to achieve the company goals. And most importantly the clearer I could communicate with my team members, customers, partners or other external audiences that I worked with, and so all my other colleagues.
This principle still holds true today. Clarity and understanding of a company’s purpose, goals and strategy is required to make everyone pull into the same direction. But in the age of social media employees who are not clear about this can have devastating effects that spread inconsistent, incomplete, wrong or conflicting content across their social networks, with unprecedented reach and impact. Today every employee is in media, through their social media interactions.
Enablement and clear direction to employees as brand ambassadors is key. I have seen a unique and empowered culture of employees develop at SAP . Our leaders encourage employees to openly ask questions and collaborate. As leaders, we can now also gauge if we are reaching our employees by their social media activities. We can adapt to ensure we are being clear.
Forrester Research has a great perspective on why it is critical for a CEO or key leaders to be active with social media and surprise; employee engagement is a pivotal factor. In the age of social media, employees either become powerful multipliers of the company’s key messages or they potentially dilute, confuse or misrepresent the corporate messages. There is the fear that this activity can become the monster waiting to pounce on the corporate reputation. Today every employee is a representative of the company, a spokesperson, a media person. This is why the employees are the most powerful audience of the CEO, either way. And this is why social media matters for every CEO.
CEOs still are not very active in social media themselvesbut they have to make sure all their employees fully understand the company’s purpose, vision, values and value proposition. Now the question is not should a CEO use social media, but how?