Leading by Social Media, isn’t Always Social
Leading by Social Media, isn’t Always Social
Last week, I noticed an associate participating in an online survey on personal and work-related happiness. At VIM Executive Coaching our Denver and Boulder clients are typically tech savvy, and so I am always interested in what new and exciting leadership software is transmitted to my executive and entrepreneur friends.
“Are You Happy?”
The happiness survey sent to my associate was a slick study complete with boxes, circles and lots of multiple-choice questions assessing the problems that burdened his life, and then the survey offered solutions through guided reflections on “his” problems.
“Wow,” I thought, “that is a lot of advice and insight from a 15-minute survey on well-being and leadership!” I briefly wondered what the survey could accomplish if they had 30 minutes!
I am a firm believer in any tool that has the potential to teach an executive leader more awareness, authenticity and mindfulness. However, as a business coach I am often skeptical of any tool or set of tools that purports to offer easy solutions to complex issues.
While I would hope that every person who comes through the doors of VIM Executive Coaching is happy and carefree in both life and business, I know all too well it usually isn’t true. It is not possible to relate to an executive leader or entrepreneur as a two-dimensional human being.
Though I am certainly not a psychotherapist, nor do I purport to be, it has been my observation that an executive who is struggling through a series of management or executive leadership challenges, frequently carries other burdens along with her. They may be burdens of a personal or family nature, a health situation, financial problems or any combination of those stressors.
It is why the imagined two-dimensional caricature is so difficult to address with a simple, online happiness questionnaire.
Unfortunately, most of the online “anything’s,” whether a survey about workplace happiness or finding the breed of dog that’s right for you, often come with a catch, and that catch usually appears in the form of a book, a book series, a pay-as-you-go course, a subscription or some type of contract. The so-called free lunch always ends up costing us. For the most part, any information doled out online is not necessarily without an expectation, subtle or not so subtle. It is easy enough to do a search on something like, “7 Keys to a Resolving a Workplace Conflict,” or “5 Ways to Re-Kindle Your Relationships,” “13 Reasons to Shut the Door on Your Business,” but beware of what is tracking you, or what they offer in return for this professional advice.
In addition to the motivation of selling you something, most social media surveys and quick online solutions are of the one-size-fits-all variety. The advice that is dispensed comes from the outside and not from within, and that is an extremely important distinction between business leadership coaching and an online opinion.
I have indeed known executives who have walked away from companies, and even more sadly, couples who made painful or rash decisions, on the basis of a five-year-old online piece of advice offering then “5 Easy Steps” or “16 Points to Consider,” or whatever it was called.
Please Don’t Over-Simplify
While developing techniques of mindfulness, learning to meditate, learning to be more authentic as a leader and as a person, within that space of response, reflection and decision making are highly complex issues. What makes you unique as a leader and as a person is a beautiful thing.
There are, I would dare-say, hundreds of thousands if not millions of executive leaders in this world. Many leaders struggle with workplace challenges. The most authentic route is the most compassionate route. Compassion for self and for others, be they peers or subordinates, leads to authenticity.
Social media can be a useful tool, but please beware of what you read and why you are reading it. Over-simplification is fine if we are trying to assemble a table, but in trying to solve an executive leadership problem, the most expensive path to take might be to listen to the external advice of a survey or article that doesn’t know you as a person.
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