Tag Archives: leadership blogging

Social Media: Engaging Democracy and Communities Online

Steven-CliftSteve Clift, founder and Executive Director, E-Democracy.org has asked me to do a presentation tonight for a class he’s teaching at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs titled Social Media: Engaging Democracy and Communities Online.

He’s asked me to talk about my civic leadership blogging coaching, as well as my current citizen engagement consulting work. I plan to take the class on a web tour while I speak to them about both.

Civic leadership blogging

  1. July, 2004: UK e-gov delegation visits Northfield
  2. Feb, 2005: Trip to the UK
  3. July, 2005: field trip to Northfield for the International Symposium on Local E-Democracy
  4. Fall, 2005: Guide to Civic Leadership Blogging (U.K. edition) How to use blogs as an effective local leadership tool
  5. Oct. 2008: UK CivicSurf booklet
  6. Featured civic leadership bloggers

Citizen Engagement Online

  1. Northfield.org(since 1994)
  2. Locally Grown Northfield(since 2006)
    • 3,400 blog posts
  3. Webinar on social media use by local government (Nov. 2010)
  4. Edina Citizen Engagement (since May, 2011)

Roundtable discussion on social media at the MASA/MASE 2011 spring conference

I hosted a roundtable discussion this morning at the MASA/MASE 2011 spring conference, The Art & Science of Leadership (PDF) at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park, MN.

Using social media for leadership: A discussion about how blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other social media technologies can be used to leverage one’s influence as a leader.

I got to meet some of the other MASA staff (besides Charlie!):

Jeanna Quinn, Charlie Kyte, Aimee Ranallo, Deb Larson MASA conference
L to R: Jeanna Quinn, Charlie Kyte, Aimee Ranallo, Deb Larson

Fear and Loathing in the Executive Suite: Why Leaders Avoid Blogging and Other Social Media

PDF version of this blog postMost every leader is feeling the effects of the waves of social media technologies that are increasingly washing up on the shores of their organizations. It’s primarily been blogs since 2005 but now it’s also Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Leaders cannot help but notice the demands for more organizational transparency, authenticity, responsiveness, and engagement from employees, customers, constituents, members, citizens, and the media–all of whom are increasingly adept at using social media technologies.

If you’ve been reluctant to use social media technologies yourself in your role as a leader, you’re not alone.

ceobloggingstage_tnThe problem was noted as early as 2006 when the New York Times published an article titled All the Internet’s a Stage. Why Don’t C.E.O.’s Use It? Author Randall Stross cited only one active CEO blogger among the Fortune 500.

Fast forward to January, 2009 when social media consultant Steve Borsch authored a blog post titled Why Executives Don’t “Get” Social Media. When he asked one executive, the response was, “Because I’m getting sh*t done and I can’t invest my attention or energy there.”

GeorgeColonyIn the spring of 2010, Forrester CEO George Colony published a series of blog posts titled The Social CEO. In Part 1: Most CEOs Are Not Social he noted that not only were few CEOs using social media, but that even CEOs of the big social media companies weren’t exactly active users.

Colony and others have some theories about why so few executives use social media technologies such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube in their roles as leaders. In Part 2 of his series titled CEOs Aren’t Social For Good Reasons, Colony listed these factors:

  • Age
  • Risk and regulatory constraints
  • Time
  • The social heavy model breeds blowhards

In August, 2010, the principals of corporate social media consulting firm DemingHill published a paper titled Why Executives HATE Social Media citing that executives:

  • are “non-narcissistic in a YouTube world”
  • are inherently introverts and gravitate towards solitude versus socializing
  • have difficulty with the lack of control required for social media to be fully unleashed
  • fear and feel vulnerable around the technology in the social arena, even as they depend on it in other areas
  • wonder if social media is yet another technology whose promises will go unfilled

In my work as a leadership blogging coach the past five years, I’ve heard all these reasons and a few others. In this blog post, I address them and suggest some alternative ways to think about them. Continue reading Fear and Loathing in the Executive Suite: Why Leaders Avoid Blogging and Other Social Media

Eden Prairie City Manager Scott Neal, leadership blogger, soon taking the reins at Edina

A month ago, Eden Prairie MN City Manager Scott Neal announced on his blog that he’d accepted a new job as City Manager for the City of Edina, MN.  See this recent feature in the Star Tribune newspaper profiling his career: Edina’s new city manager has lifelong interest in governance.

Griff Wigley and Scott Neal

Scott and I had breakfast last week at Turtle Bread in south Minneapolis near his home.

I got to know Scott when he became Northfield’s city administrator in 1996. Only 100 days on the job, he became our first guest in an online web forum that I moderated titled State of the City (transcript). When he departed Northfield for the city manager job Eden Prairie in late 2002, he became my second leadership blogging client (see this blog post of mine dated March 31, 2003).

UK government delegation visits Northfield, 2004Scott Neal gives keys to Kingston Scott Neal gets keys from Kingston
(Left photo): When a delegation from the UK government visited Northfield during the summer of 2004 to learn about the civic leadership blogging in Northfield and Eden Prairie, it turned into a trip to the UK in Feb. 2005 for both us to teach local leaders there about leadership blogging (see the album of 240 photos).

(Center and right photos): Scott gave ceremonial keys to the city to the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames when we visited the city, and Kingston Councilor Mary Reid (recently retired) did likewise when she and others from the UK visited MN for the International Symposium on Local E-Democracy and spent a day in Northfield (see my blog post with photos here) to discuss leadership blogging at the local government level. (See Mary Reid’s blog post on our visit here.)

Scott’s blogging taught me more about the power of a leadership blog than I taught him. I remember the most startling revelation for me was the extent to which he used his blog to communicate indirectly to the employees of the City of Eden Prairie. ‘Indirectly’ because the audience for his blog was primarily local citizens but his staff followed his blog closely.

Affirming people is one of the key ways to use a leadership blog and Scott consistently did this in his 7+ years of blogging as Eden Prairie City Manager. See this recent blog post where he singles out three employees for detailed recognition.

Will Scott be blogging in his new job?  Stay tuned.

Guest blog post at Leadership and Community

I have a guest post on the the Leadership and Community blog today titled Using a Blog to Leverage your Influence as a Leader.

A tip-of-the-blogger hat to Jeff Urban for helping to make it happen.

Leadership and Community is “a collaborative community blog focused on providing awareness on leadership and community insights in the Twin Cities.”

Looking back and looking ahead at executive blogging: the missing link is leadership

Debbie Weil, corporate social media consultant and author of the recently updated The Corporate Blogging Book (now on my Kindle), tweeted this on Monday:

9 years since my 1st article about blogging on Aug. 22, 2001: To Blog or Not to Blog http://bit.ly/cgL88M Yr thots on what has changed – ?

Weil was prescient with her 2001 ClickZ article To Blog or Not to Blog… That’s a Good Question. She not only saw blogs as potent corporate marketing tools but saw the possibility of them being used by executives:

TCBB_Kindle_FinalFrontSmall72RGBSo how does this translate to your email marketing program? If your objective is customer retention and you are sending an e-newsletter to your house list, you could easily include a link to your CEO’s blog — or a blog by another executive in your company who has a keen wit, writes with style, and has something to say.

In 2006, Weil wrote in her book:

Ideally, the blog attaches a voice to the company through the words and style of the executive writing it. A legitimate question to ask, however, is this: Is a CEO blog "the" voice of the company? What about employee blogs? Perhaps it’s better to say that a CEO blog can help tell the story of the company. The story you want customers and the media to listen to. It’s a subtle difference, but it touches on one of the most oft touted reasons for a large corporation to blog–giving the company a human voice.

Jennifer Van GroveYesterday, Jennifer Van Grove, Associate Editor at Mashable, published an article titled How CEOs Will Use Social Media in the Future.

Van Grove quotes from last May’s Mashable interview with Forrester CEO George Colony titled Should CEOs Be Fluent in Social Media? about how few top executives use social media, noting that "social media abstinence even appears to extend to CEOs of tech companies."

She brings in the age and attitude factor (which Colony raised as well):

When it comes to CEOs, there’s a vast disparity between the young ones heading up startups and the more seasoned CEOs running the world’s most powerful companies. That disparity is social media — the young are more versed than the old. The difference between the two groups can be attributed to different generations and different attitudes around content and information meant for the public and private domains.

But she fails to mention that in that interview, as well as on Colony’s blog here, that he also notes that the CEO’s of social media companies are less than avid social media users:

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is active on his platform but doesn’t blog and infrequently visits Twitter. Evan Williams of Twitter Tweets several times per day and blogs, but hasn’t posted in 2010. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn uses Twitter several times per week and posts to the LinkedIn corporate blog. Mike Jones, co-CEO of MySpace is on Twitter several times per week and has a blog (though no posts this year).

I don’t know the ages of Weiner and Jones but Williams is 30-something and Zuckerberg is 20-something. These guys are not only extremely versed in social media but Williams (Blogger and Twitter) and Zuckerberg (Facebook) were among the creators of it.

So it doesn’t seem, as Van Grove asserts, that lack of executive blogging/social media use is solely because of "different generations and different attitudes around content and information."

I’d argue that it’s because executives of all generations have not considered how these technologies can be used as leadership tools. They only see them as marketing/public relations tools and once a company gets to a certain size, few CEO’s engage directly in PR on a daily basis.

Van Grove lauds the tweeting of Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman but he doesn’t appear to blog and I seriously doubt that he spends much time reading or personally responding to the tweets of his 38,000+ followers. As I blogged last month, the social networking part of social media is a problem for most executives.

Van Grove asks Edelman Digital’s Senior VP Steve Rubel what he thinks the use of social media will be by executives in the future:

While bullish on CEOs making organizational changes to better incorporate social media, Rubel does not see reason to predict a huge uptick in social media broadcasting from the CEOs themselves. “I see CEOs more laying the groundwork in vision and process than necessarily participating actively themselves,” asserts Rubel.

That’s because Rubel sees the world of social media through the lens of public relations. Others, like that geezer CEO Paul Levy, see it through the lens of leadership.

Debbie Weil saw that a blog could give an organization a human voice.  We now need executives to see that a blog can help them lead an organization with human voice.

Using blogs and Twitter to leverage your influence as a leader: rationale from Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is CEO of the Christian publishing company Thomas Nelson Publishers and recently gave a speech titled “Social Media and Your Ministry.” A preview of that speech was captured in this video of an interview, blogged at How Can Christian Leaders Get Started with Social Media? (Stephen Bateman blogged this last week in a FutureBook post titled Tweet tweet – follow my leader. Thanks to personal/professional coach Tim Pearson for the tweet about it.)

Hyatt says in the video that “Twitter may be greatest leadership tool ever invented” in part because it’s “a marvelous way to leverage your influence as a leader.”

(The title of the video makes one think it’s all about ‘how to get started’ but the most important pieces are related to why.)

The only other person I know of who’s written about blogs (and now Twitter which, after all, is a microblogging service) as tools for leveraging one’s influence as a leader is Seth Godin in his book, Small is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas. (I blogged about this back in 2006, Leadership blogging and the leveraged effort curve.)

Godin originally wrote about this for his blog back in March of 2005: Godin’s Leveraged Effort Curve:

Seth Godin's BlogKnowledge workers get paid extra when they show insight or daring or do what others can’t. But packaging the knowledge is expensive, time consuming and not particularly enjoyable for most people. As you get better at what you do, it seems as though you spend more and more time on the packaging and less on the doing.

… The exception?

The intense conversations you can have with your customers and prospects, especially via a blog. Once you get the system and the structure set up, five minutes of effort can give you four minutes of high-leverage idea time in front of the people you’re trying to influence.

The book adds this to that last sentence: “This is pure, unadulterated leverage. The stuff you actually get paid for, with no overhead.”

Godin’s insight — “among highly-compensated workers, the percentage of the [knowledge] work you get paid to do goes down as you get paid more” and that “packaging the knowledge is expensive, time consuming and not particularly enjoyable” — was stunning to me and still is.

In the Why keep a blog? section of my 2005 Leadership Blogging Guide (currently under revision as a White Paper), my #1 reason to blog is to “Leverage your leadership interactions that otherwise disappear.”

In the course of any leader’s week, there are literally hundreds of interactions with colleagues, constituents, staff, media and other members of community. Whether these interactions are face-to-face, phone, electronic or paper-based, they comprise the bulk of how leaders exhibit their day-to-day influence. A phone call from a constituent, a conversation with a staff member at lunch, an email exchange with a colleague, an off-topic discussion at a team meeting – all likely evaporate into thin air, for all intents and purposes, as soon as they’re concluded. Even most paper documents such as memos and reports are quickly relegated to the trash, the shredder, or the filing cabinet, never to be seen again.

With a blog, leaders can select from among this never-ending parade of interactions the ones that they deem strategically significant, and give them a longer “shelf-life.” With a posting to their blog, the story of the interaction gains immediate wider audience while making it significantly easier for that audience to pass the story around to others who they think should know about it.

Prospective civic leader bloggers frequently ask, "How much time is blogging going to require?" It’s a fair question. Blogging feels like just another task when you first start out, and it does require some time commitment to work it into your week.

But once you experience feedback from your blogging, that not only are others reading your blog but that it’s starting to have influence, your attitude towards the task of blogging changes because it becomes strategic.

"I’m going to blog this because I know that she’ll read it and pass it on to…"

"When this group of people sees what I’ve blogged about this, then they’re more likely to…"

You start to realize that your blog leverages your leadership strategies in time-effective ways.

Among other reasons why a leader should blog/tweet is that the tools allow you to:

  • Use a voice of authenticity to have a one-to-one conversation with an audience
  • Extend your presence with a selective window into your day
  • Provide another way for people to interact with you
  • Convey your message directly to your audience instead depending on media institutions

More to come.

Blogging For Leaders: a new interactive learning environment

blf-sshotI’ve set up a new site called Blogging For Leaders (BLF). It’s an interactive learning environment (ILE) designed to help people use blogs and other social media tools in their roles as leaders.

I’ve been a leadership blogging coach since 2003, and have worked with business and non-profit executives, politicians, government officials, education administrators, small business owners, and community leaders.

I’m taking what I’ve learned (and what my clients have taught me) and putting it into a structured online  course. And I will be wrapping an online community of learners around it with a web forum where I’ll moderate the discussions, provide some coaching, and gather ongoing feedback on how to improve the offering.

Currently, the course and forum are only open to those leaders associated with a couple of my client organizations

That will change later this fall.

Leadership blogging tour wraps up in Grand Rapids, MN

Grand Rapids Area Library Grand Rapids Area Library Griff Wigley Griff Wigley
I finished my leadership blogging tour for Northern Community Internet on Friday with a presentation to a full-house of 30-40 people at the Grand Rapids Area Library, a very cool-looking library with a giant red chair outside. (Click any of the photo thumbnails to enlarge and the scroll through the images.)

IMG_4076 IMG_4086 
Afterwards, I had lunch next door with the staff at KAXE, Northern Community Radio, and lucked out to be there for volunteer chef Charlie Lano’s catered home-made lunch. (That’s Charlie standing to the right of Maggie Montgomery, KAXE General Manager.)

Ross WilliamsA tip-of-the-blogger hat to Ross Williams, one of the planners/project managers for Northern Community Internet, who handled all the arrangements for my visit. (Photo is from the MN Voices UnConference,  courtesy of Marc Osten, original here.)