Leaders: Use social media to show up, not off

Sunday November 18 2018

Social media

Social media tools are important echo chambers for leaders to amplify their messages. PHOTO | FILE 

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Elected leaders use digital tools to connect with their followers to influence, inspire and empower. Social media tools are important echo chambers for leaders to amplify their messages.

Sadly, many leaders either don’t use them or abuse them. Political leaders who don’t use these tech tools to connect with the people they serve, don’t seem to live in the same orbit like the rest of us. They are ignorant of the fact that majority of their followers are young, tech-savvy and connected.

Online provides unencumbered connection between a leader and his or her people. If you scan some of the official social media profiles of elected leaders, you may not differentiate them from those of socialites. Theirs are platforms for showing off; for brazen display of affluence in less than humble ways.

They seem to have an affinity for posting petty pictures and videos about themselves — about where they take dinner, with whom they take a beer, where they worship, the gym where they work out, their last vacation destination and their latest shiny gears and cars.

This is a waste of social media space, an insult to the electorate and a red-hot evidence of patented weak leadership.
The electorate expect their leaders to show up and work for them. Not to show off. Showing off is not a leadership attribute. For a leader to be so preoccupied by the feeling of self-importance to the extent of repeatedly displaying it on the social media where they meet their followers, is an irresponsible use of a social public good. It is being insensitive to the people they serve, some of whom are incapacitated by shackles of poverty.

Great leaders of years gone by excelled without the megaphones provided by the modern digital tools. As internationally acclaimed leadership guru Dr John C. Maxwell says, “Leaders become great not because of their power, but their ability to empower others.”
Being a great leader is about having a genuine willingness and a true commitment to lead others to achieve a common vision through positive influence. Social media is a pious platform to do just that; to influence.

If you examine the social media profile for your politician, can you tell what he stands for? What’s his stance on the teenage pregnancy that is dimming the lives of young girls? What’s his take on the cult of corruption? What’s his position on workers’ wages?
True leadership is not about the leader. It’s about the follower. The very marrow of a leader is to light up the path for the people they lead, and show them a pathway to better lives. To misjudge or discount the potential of social media, leaders are selling themselves short and short-changing their followers.
The writer is an informatics specialist. Email:[email protected] @samwambugu2