The (Not So) Plugged-In Executive
At VIM Executive Coaching, we are well aware of the following problem: You can find one of these folks in almost every corporation or entrepreneurial venture these days, the “Plugged-In Executive.” Whether he or she works in HR or production, marketing or IT, the plugged-in executive is a self-proclaimed social media master.
We knew of one fellow who spent hours each day on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In, not to mention some sites best left “at home!” These sites went from Snapchat to Pinterest. We must admit it was all pretty impressive. Whenever anyone in his organization had any question on the social media, he was the “go-to” guy. Whenever he needed an answer to any managerial question, he knew exactly where to go. There was always some social media site to give him the answer.
The “Line” Outside HR
Unfortunately, while his head was buried in his device for advice on an employee problem, several of the employees under his supervision were beating a path to Human Resources. Why? They found his management to be capricious, inconsistent and at times, self-centered. He never really explored a problem in-depth, he did what was best for himself in the moment. His employees were often frustrated and confused, and frankly they were miserable.
Naturally, HR contacted the department vice-president (who was his boss) and this triggered the executive to appear before the boss and HR for a counseling session.
“What did I do wrong?” he asked. He was nervously playing with his phone; not even aware he was doing it! “I am always trying to learn new leadership techniques online,” he said. Everyone in the meeting suggested that just might be the problem. It was then that he was referred to VIM Executive Coaching.
Please Put Down the Smartphone…Please!
In our vast experience, the most effective leaders in corporations or entrepreneurial settings are those who turn inward and who practice techniques such as mindfulness meditation. The “Internet” as it is, certainly has numerous positive uses; of that there can be little doubt. The problem is that it is all external. The leader who consults only the internet or social media to solve leadership problems, often gets a clutter of conflicting advice, inappropriate advice, inapplicable advice and plain old bad advice!
When relying on outside sources to solve leadership problems, the executive often loses “self” and more, importantly authenticity. Therefore, when confronted with a workplace conflict executives who over-rely on social media may try to solve a problem totally outside of how they might normally, instinctively operate. There becomes an inconsistency that employees can never seem to anticipate or understand. The leader, him or herself, becomes a different person to match any occasion. Yesterday’s advice becomes totally changed today; today’s solved problem becomes completely re-arranged tomorrow. It just never seems to stop.
Being Authentic and Mindful
We, as leaders cannot keep changing opinions, personalities and techniques. If we are within ourselves, focusing on “what is,” and authentic problem solving, then we are consistent and genuine in our leadership. We don’t have to reach back and think: “How did I solve this kind of problem yesterday?”
The social media’s advice on any number of leadership issues is generally inconsistent and wrong. Why? The advice is usually doled out by people who, in themselves, have consulted the social media! At some point in the leadership process it is up to each one of us to be authentic and mindful. To develop a management style that is based on our own inner journeys and not something cut and pasted from a social media site.
Employees can appreciate a leader who is authentic and they “run away” from a leader who changes themselves with each click.