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Few people would argue that a business great like Sir Richard Branson is not a great leader. He has built many successful brands and businesses, is worth billions of dollars, and is an advocate for social and political change. He regularly encourages his teams to be better and sets the example by paving the way first hand. He provides insight into how he faces problems and finds solutions. He’s outspoken, adventurous, and likes to be challenged. How do I know all this about a man I’ve never met? Social media tells me so.

Are you a Boss or a Leader?

Plenty of articles have been written about leadership and more specifically what traits distinguish a leader from a boss. This article is not meant to re-explore this common topic. We know from what’s already been written and explored by others that leaders coach, inspire and guide their teams to reach a common goal, whereas bosses tend to dominate and intimidate for their own personal success.

Social Media Can Help Build Careers

Social media and platforms like LinkedIn, provide successful people in business the opportunity to share stories and experiences in real time without a lengthy publishing process. Gone are the days of waiting to read about an entrepreneur’s path to success or a business leader’s life’s work at the end of their careers, when their stories are finally deemed worthy of print.

Social media allows us to hear first hand the daily struggles of business leaders and learn alongside them as we journey down our own career paths. LinkedIn has quickly mastered this phenomenon by encouraging influencers like Sir Richard Branson to not only share their stories through blogging but also engage and respond to their readers. For true leaders of today, participating in an online community like LinkedIn is an imperative part of success. However, for bosses who are more about personal gain at the expense of others, social media can be a ticking time bomb that can ultimately end a career.

It’s said that in business and life, reputations precede themselves. This is very much the case when it comes to social media. For leaders, social media can help facilitate a positive reputation, where a leader will use social profiles to not only highlight brand successes, but also pull teams together, motivate team members and recognize hard working employees.  A study by Weber Shandwick found that “social” CEOs are believed by respondents to make better leaders, are better communicators, are more trustworthy and enhance the brand image. 

“Successful leaders will no longer be measured just by stock price. Managing and communicating with shareholders, employees, government, community, customers will be table stakes in the future. They are talking about your business anyway. Why not be included in the conversation?” – Peter Aceto, CEO, ING DIRECT Canada, Forbes.com

Bosses Have No Business Being Social

For bosses, on the other hand, social media can have the opposite effect, as it provides a public platform for complaints by employees who are desperate for opportunities to air their grievances.  A person who dictates processes instead of trusting and empowering his or her team, or commands instead of consults, is likely a boss not a leader. These bosses need to change their approach to management before even considering becoming social.

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