This is a guest post from Lisa Petrilli.
I just spent two full days in a phenomenal leadership simulation program entitled, “Magnetic Leadership” that was conceived, created and offered by Profitability Business Simulations.
I had the privilege of playing the role of the customer throughout the simulation, and then coaching the teams and their leaders after each simulation round was completed.
During each round, one person on each team was appointed “CEO” and was responsible for determining the overall direction and strategy for their team of eight people.
They had one hour to prepare the team for the 10-minute, high-stress simulation in which they were given a business challenge along with a fickle customer (me) and tasked with meeting the challenge while satisfying the customer.
Three Overarching CEO Success Principles
There were three overarching principles that were critical to the CEOs’ success that surfaced during the simulation.
As I was reflecting on how I would talk with my leadership-focused clients about how the experience confirmed the importance of these principles, I realized that it was imperative to talk with my social media clients about the experience as well.
Because these principles are such that they must be communicated and absorbed throughout the entire organization, so that the company can exude them and live them on a daily basis. As a critical part of marketing, sales, business development and customer relationship building, employees on the front lines of social media must also exude and live these principles through their work.
As someone committed to ‘visionary leadership’ I was thrilled to see how the high-ranking leaders I was working with understood the importance of vision to their success, and how they got better over the 2-day experience at clarifying and communicating their vision:
“In an organization, those individuals on the front line of social media must clearly understand the vision for the organization in order to exude that vision when talking, and sharing content with, customers.”
For example, though Patagonia does not have a formal vision statement, it shares its vision when it writes about its “Reason for Being:”
“Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing – as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. These are all silent sports. None requires a motor; none delivers the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature…
For us at Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.”
Patagonia’s vision is to enable its customers to experience that hard-won grace and moments of connection with nature, and to express its love of wild and beautiful places by saving them.
Now see how Patagonia’s social media efforts further their vision to enable customers to experience that hard-won grace and those moments of connection with nature…especially the wild and beautiful places.
Picture Story: Conditions
Another in our occasional series of posts for the more visually oriented. This one goes out to all those lucky enough to charge off the couch and into the unknown without looking back or thinking twice . . . or doing much thinking at all, for that matter.
And from Twitter:
It’s clear to me that Patagonia employees immersed in social media understand the company’s vision and how critical it is to share it, and inspire through it, via what they communicate.
It was striking how in such short leadership simulations one’s personal and leadership values became so immediately obvious.
For example, whether or not a leader valued the input of others was demonstrated by how well they listened, because there’s a difference between asking for someone’s opinion “to appease that person” and asking because you truly want to know. Of course, this is just one of so many ways to demonstrate values.
It’s critical that CEOs not lose sight of the fact that the values that are rewarded in the organization are those that will ultimately be imbued in conversations with, and content shared with, customers socially.
Contrast the fact that I worked with a client who would not allow me to tweet birthday wishes from the organization’s Twitter account to some of our most loyal and active members, with the following, recent tweets from Patagonia:
Which organization would you naturally gravitate toward; the one that allows itself to be human and places value on sharing the human experience or the one that believes doing so just isn’t professional?
Your company’s value proposition is what sets you apart from your competition; what makes you unique and provides that niche in which you cannot be rivaled. For Apple and Disney it’s about customer experience while for Walmart it’s low cost and for Nordstrom it’s service.
If Disney social media employees tweeted about low-cost tickets to Disney World or asked Facebook fans to share stories about how to explore the park on a budget, it simply wouldn’t fit with the brand’s value proposition.
Rather, you see tweets about unique customer experiences that cannot be had anywhere but Disney World:
And yet, without guidance and clear communication from the CEO, employees immersed in social media might make the mistake of expressing the company in ways that are in direct contrast to its value proposition.
It is the CEO’s responsibility to ensure that all employees understand the vision, values and value proposition (amongst other things!) that the company is committed to, to be their head steward, and to never lose sight of how critical it is to align these principles with their company’s social media efforts.
- If you’re in the C-suite of your company, ask yourself if you’ve communicated your vision, values and value proposition well enough so that employees in social media roles may do their jobs to the best of their ability and are empowered for success. If not, you run the risk that what they share socially may not be aligned strategically!
- If you’re in a social media role and you realize you’re not clear on these principles and priorities, make sure you ask and get clear direction!
About the author: Lisa Petrilli is Chief Executive Officer of C-Level Strategies, Inc. and is passionate about visionary leadership. She helps C-suite executives and emerging leaders create strong visions for their companies and for themselves, and then bring these visions to fruition with clear and aligned strategies focused on leadership, marketing, and social media. You can find her on Twitter @LisaPetrilli and running #LeadershipChat every Tuesday night at 8pm ET, and she welcomes your emails at Lisa@CLevelStrategies.com.