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Monday, June 14, 2010

Leadership as a contact sport

The key to effective leadership is clear, thoughtful, open communication. And, as more people connect via social media, what better way to reach employees than through the various ways they currently interact?

By leveraging social media for communication, leaders can help create a feeling of community, as well as improving the level of trust, according to Smart Blog on Workforce. But perhaps more important are the implications for boosting employee engagement. Why? Research from Right Management shows that engagement is linked to such factors as having a clear understanding of expectations, the company’s mission and how roles are linked to business objectives, as well as feeling valued by senior leaders and committed to the organization’s core values. And all of these issues are contingent on senior leadership’s ability to communicate and connect with employees.

Still, senior leaders can’t just jump into social media. First, they must understand beforehand the differences between social media and more traditional methods of communication. Most important, given the interactive nature of social media, successful communication requires being open to comments and suggestions and willing to respond in a give-and-take, as Donald Bulmer points out in "Why Business Leaders Should Care".

That’s not to say leaders should only use social media. In fact, when it comes to communication, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. While one person might prefer using Facebook or reading a blog, another might choose email or in-person meetings. But, if they use the right mix, leaders are sure to find they’ve contributed to creating an environment of mutual respect – and increased levels of engagement.

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