Show them a piece of the real you
Post by Susie Bell. Susie is a Director at Himle Rapp. You can follow her on Twitter at @swbell.
This week we learned what happens when you are the leader of the free world and you get a new dog. The internet goes crazy. While Prince George probably thought he had a lock on the most talked-about and most looked-at photos on the web this week, he is getting a run for his money from the new Portuguese Water Dog puppy inhabiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sunny, Bo Obama’s little sister, is a hit and while it may not be surprising that pictures of cute puppies are popular, this one has an added benefit – seeing Sunny gives us a glimpse into the “real life” of someone most of us will never know. And this glimpse enables each of us to connect with the president and the first family in a way that makes them seem more like our own family than we normally would.
CEOs and leaders in business, government or other sectors should take note and allow their employees, supporters, investors/donors and other key stakeholders to get a glimpse of the real person behind the desk. There are numerous ways to do this, but social media provides an easy and appropriate outlet to not only share company news or retweet interesting articles from the Wall Street Journal, but also to cheer on a favorite football team, note a milestone in a child’s life or comment on a great new movie.
For example, when he was new to the job of President of the University of Minnesota, Dr. Eric Kaler demonstrated his Minnesota credibility and aligned himself with nearly every audience in the state by tweeting about his love for Dairy Queen ice cream cones. Similarly, I always remember reading an article about PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi in which she noted that she eats Lay’s potato chips with lunch every day. Of course, that could be seen as a product plug, but it struck me more like “hey- me too!” (although she heats hers in the microwave for 15 seconds first).
Having a personal life does not make you any less successful or effective as a leader. I am not advocating sharing what you ate for breakfast every day or commenting on how bad traffic is this morning – you have to use a filter. But I do think sharing interesting or surprising tidbits about interests outside of the office allows key audiences to connect with leaders and see them as individuals or people with whom they have something in common, and this can only help build or strengthen key relationships.
If, like our staff here, you advise CEOs and senior leaders on strategically using social media, consider encouraging them to share genuine tidbits about their personality with their followers and give others a glimpse into their lives outside the office walls.
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