CEOs tap social media's communications potential
The traditional command-and-control style of leadership is fading while openness and employee empowerment is on the rise in executive suites around the world.
A recent survey of chief executive officers by IBM found companies that outperform the competition are also the most likely to have leaders who cultivate the collective intelligence of their employees and champion the use of social media.
The study's authors interviewed more than 1,700 chief executive officers from 64 countries, including Canada.
One notable shift in management thinking is the emphasis CEOs place on keeping up with changes in technology, said Pierre Morin, partner in global business services at IBM Canada. When the CEOs were asked what external force will affect their organization the most over the next three to five years, technology was No. 1 for almost all. When the same question had been asked in four previous surveys dating back to 2004, the top answer each time was economic and market factors.
Another significant change is an increased emphasis on employees. The CEOs identified as one of their priorities the development of strategies to keep employees creative and flexible in a fast-changing business environment.
To accomplish that, the corporate leaders identified a number of possible actions:
Creating unconventional teams by intentionally mixing specialties and expertise so that employees will have experience with a diverse range of people from different backgrounds and mindsets.
Encouraging experiential learning by broadening the range of situations and experiences employees encounter in their daily work.
Encouraging employees to develop diverse and extensive networks of contacts, which is becoming increasingly easy through social media.
While social media is the least utilized of all communication methods CEOs use today, it stands to become the No. 2 organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions, the study found.
To forge closer connections with customers, partners and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs said they will be shifting their focus from e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to social networks. While just 16 per cent of CEOs said they are using social business platforms to connect with individuals, 57 per cent said they expect to use them as primary communications channels within the next three to five years.
Canadian CEOs also appear to be more open to outside collaboration with suppliers, clients, and other companies than CEOs in any other country. While the study didn't explore why, the study team has a hypothesis that as a small market, Canadian companies need to be more open to external collaboration, Mr. Morin said. But in fact, collaboration is on the rise everywhere, with 67 per cent worldwide saying they plan more partnerships outside the firm and just 4 per cent saying they intend to do everything in-house.
Believe technology will have the most impact on the company's future.
Plan to establish more external partnerships.
Chose ethics and values as a major factor in getting best work from employees.
Plan to use technology to encourage more teamwork.
Chose work-life balance as a factor in getting best performance.
Source: IBM survey Leading Through Connections