Should the CEO also be Chief Social Media Officer?

Why would you ask such a silly question? CEOs are supposed to be busy running the company not messing around with social media tools right?

Is social media really a new function in organizations? And if not do we really need a CSMO, Chief Social Media Officer? Knee jerk reactions aside, more and more CEOs are instead recognizing the power of personally leveraging
social media to lead their socially networked organizations.

The most effective leaders throughout history have been great communicators.

  • Monitoring activity and accomplishments of individuals at all levels of the organization to recognize them. Understanding the power of recognition both monetary and non monetary to encourage and reinforce desired actions and admonish or discourage negative behavior.
  • Communicating and engaging in active company wide social dialogues across the organization at all levels.
  • Fostering collaboration on platforms that allow junior employees to tap into the tribal knowledge of those more experienced to meet and overcome challenges.
  • Giving all employees a voice to make suggestions or speak out against potentially bad policy decisions and changes.
  • Experimenting and shifting to new forms of more effective models of collaborative leadership. Consider the power of “Leading from the Middle”

But don’t take our word for it, hear it directly from the below CEOs who share their positive socially enhanced leadership experiences.

Craig Herkert, CEO of SUPERVALU shares experiences with @Yammer

Next meet a CEO who’s already become a Chief Social Media Officer, Giam Swiegers, CEO Deloitte Australia reviews every Yammer conversation within his organization every 48 hours. Seventy-five percent of their employees are digital natives and social tools are how they communicate. Specific examples of rapid collaboration and how the organization has been flattened with first year Analysts already challenging and refuting bad policy changes already emerging. Giam believes that within a few years you will not be able to be an effective CEO without engaging in social dialogue.

Watch this video interview with Giam Swiegers CEO of Deloitte Australia.

Last but certainly not least John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco shares some great social leadership approaches that have evolved at Cisco. “Leading from the Middle” versus a “Command and Control” mentality have proven fruitful at this networking leader.

Video of John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco on “Leading from the Middle”

Most importantly these messages aren’t coming from social media gurus or software start up hucksters. Instead these are seasoned business leaders who have recognized and latched onto the power of these tools. As social CEOs they have already recognized and harnessed the collaborative, connective and communications benefits of social for their organizations.

The short answer to our question is yes! CEOs can, should and in many cases have already become Chief Social Media Officers.

For those CEOs still sitting on the fence the time to engage is now.

Embrace the use of social tools to listen to your organization.

When you’re finally ready to engage be authentic, be social and lead.

Jeff Ashcroft