Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess) is a digital and social brand consultant, blogger, and speaker. Her knowledge of business strategy, passion for creative expression, and marketing technology helps businesses achieve the remarkable. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.
The past decade has seen the emergence of the digital bazaar. In this world of seemingly infinite connections, forward-thinking executives have come to understand that they must adopt effective social business practices or risk getting left behind. As evidenced by Mark Fidelman’s recent blog post, “These are the are Top 25 Most Social CIOs in the Fortune 250,” many executives have not only risen to the challenge, but thrived in their new roles. Fidelman allows a few of these CIOs to speak about their new social roles and the importance of those roles to their businesses. My recent post at Blue Focus Marketing, “7 Personalities of a Social Executive”, also explored the traits that make for successful social executives. Following this train of thought a little further, I decided to ask some colleagues what traits they prized in these business leaders.
Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret and analyst at ZDNet, pointed out that social executives tend to speak for themselves. “In today’s world, the social imperative requires innovative executives to reach out and touch customers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders directly—without intermediaries. Doing so in a meaningful way forces managers to develop the confidence to speak honestly without handlers getting in the way. Of course discretion is necessary, but honest dialog is possible and there are many examples of senior management who have already taken this step. Start small, perhaps with a Twitter account, and just engage; then see what happens and enjoy the results!”
“LinkedIn Diva” Lori Ruff of Integrated Alliances seemed to agree with Krigsman’s assessment. Confidence and honesty certainly play key roles for the social executive, and perhaps humility as well. “Authentic Social Executives are open to joining the conversation; they understand the value of being approachable and available to their stakeholders,” Ruff said. “They are confident (i.e., not afraid of their own voice) and understand we all start from the same place—with a barren profile and zero followers. For professionals in the C-Suite who are used to having and maintaining a polished and professional image, starting with nothing is intimidating. The Social Executive understands and is willing to put a stake in the ground and take the plunge.”
Ruff’s idea of putting a stake in the ground is echoed by Nigel M. de S. Cameron, President and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies. “Executive leadership depends on deep understanding of stakeholder culture,” Cameron said. “Markets like products are being transformed exponentially; social is the cultural language of every market and especially those growing and emerging. You can’t engage in social at second hand; the socially credentialed exec will be at home on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Yammer; will blog a little at least; will be a participant in the global social community—or sooner rather than later will cease to have an office in the C suite. There really is no alternative.”
Business solutions to meet connectivity challenges
In Abhi Ingle’s recent AT&T Networking Exchange blog he gives examples how business executives need to incorporate the power of cloud computing coupled with its soul mate (mobility) to increase productivity and connectivity. He recommends executives use ProntoForms from AT&T to increase efficiencies in today’s complex digital world.
As businesses become increasingly geared towards developing nuanced, complex relationships with their customers, it appears that we are coming to expect the same things from our executives as we do with all meaningful relationships: confidence, honesty, strong communication and a sense of purpose. Phonies stick out like a sore thumb in the digital world, and any executive who can’t provide an authentic interaction may find their customers turning to their competitors.
The following infographic presents the most successful 25 Top Social CIOs in the country.