Leading with Trust

4 Ways to Limit Leadership OCD (No, not that OCD)

Comparison

In today’s social media driven world where everyone feels the need to brand themselves in the best light possible, it’s easy to develop leadership OCD – Obsessive Comparison Disorder.

Studies have shown the extensive use of Facebook has been linked to a number of unhealthy mental conditions such as depression, low self-esteem, and jealousy. Facebook users see the pictures and posts of their “friends” that almost always represent the best moments of life and compare that to their own life which never seems to measure up. Of course it’s a distorted and inaccurate view of reality, but it affects people on a deeply personal and psychological level.

The same thing happens in a leadership capacity when you compare yourself to others. Teddy Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy” and he couldn’t be more accurate. The more you compare yourself to others the more unhappy you will be in life. Instead of focusing on how you measure up to others, focus on being the best version of yourself.

Here are four ways to limit leadership OCD (Obsessive Comparison Disorder):

1. Get clear on your most cherished values – A leader who is unclear about his values is like a ship without a rudder. You will float along with the tide and winds, carried in any random direction. When you are clear about your values, you have wind in your sails and a rudder by which to navigate your journey. When you’re focused on the direction you need to travel, you have less time to be concerned about the journeys of others.

2. Focus on your strengths – Marcus Buckingham has helped us realize the power of focusing on our strengths. It multiplies the positive impact we can have on people and organizations when we operate from our sweet spot. It doesn’t mean you should ignore your weaknesses; you should continue to seek to improve and develop yourself. Just don’t obsess over your weaknesses and compare them to the strengths of others. That’s a surefire way to make you feel “less than” other leaders. You have unique skills, talents, and abilities that no one else has. Find those strengths and leverage the heck out of them.

3. Take on new challenges – It’s easy to get in a leadership rut. If you’ve been in your current position for any significant length of time you know what I mean. One day starts to blur into another and you begin to feel listless and uninspired in your role. Feeling this way puts you at greater risk of OCD. Keep your role fresh by seeking out new challenges that force you to stretch and grow. You’ll be too focused on tackling your new projects to pay attention to what others are doing.

4. Regulate your use of social media – This applies to everyone, not just leaders. Social media is amoral; neither good or bad. It’s our use of social media and the meanings we derive from it that can either be helpful or harmful. I used to be a big Facebook user. I would check it several times a day, every day, and I have to admit, there were plenty of times I felt worse about my life after spending time on Facebook than I did before. Over the last 6 or 7 months I’ve dramatically reduced my use of Facebook. I might check it once or twice a week now just to see if anyone has sent me a message, and I have to tell you, I don’t miss it a bit. It may not be a problem for you and that’s great! Keep on truckin’. But if you notice the use of Facebook or any other social media feeding into your OCD, it’s time to evaluate your use of those tools.

Obsessive comparison disorder isn’t limited to leaders; it affects all of us. Focusing on activities that align with your core values, leveraging your strengths, seeking out new challenges, and regulating your use of social media can help free you from the grip of OCD.

Feel free to share a comment about your own strategies for dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Leading in a World Gone Social – 3 Tips for Success

A World Gone SocialWe are living in a world gone social. Social media has fundamentally changed the way consumers purchase products and services, the marketing and customer service strategies companies employ, and the way leaders engage with their people. If you think social media is just a fad or trend for “those young folks,” then you need to catch up. It’s not a trend or fad; it’s today’s reality.

I recently read A World Gone Social – How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, written by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt. I connected with Ted on Twitter a few years ago. In the time since, we have connected “in real life” and have mutually supported each other’s social media efforts. If there is anyone you should listen to when it comes to social media, it’s Ted. In reading his book, I came away with three implications that leaders must address in order to lead in the social age.

1. Trust trumps all – Trust is the bedrock of any successful relationship, and when it comes to leading in a social world, it’s doubly important. Whether you are leading employees who work remotely, or representing your organization through social media, your integrity is paramount in the social world. Representing yourself in a certain way, only to behave in a way inconsistent with your stated values, will erode trust in your leadership faster than anything else. Leading in a social world is no different from leading in any other context. You need to be trustworthy, honest, ethical, and committed to doing the right thing. The big difference of leading in a social world is that if you aren’t trustworthy, everyone will know it – instantaneously.

2. Freely share your expertise – Social leaders share their expertise freely without expecting anything in return. You get what you give in the social world. If you’re generous and gracious, people will be generous and gracious in return. If you feel compelled to constantly toot your own horn at the expense of others, you’ll find yourself alone and without support. Ted and his Switch & Shift partner Shawn Murphy, have been extremely generous in supporting my social media efforts. They’ve done it without expecting anything in return, but because of their generosity, they have cultivated a tribe of individuals willing to give back and support them. Leaders who give are those who get the most support from their team.

3. Leverage the expertise of your network – Social media has allowed us to connect one-on-one with experts in virtually any field anywhere in the world. Leaders no longer hold all the information and answers in today’s workplace. Your employees can acquire the information they need nearly instantaneously through their social media networks. This changes the leader’s job from one of being a director to that of facilitator. Collaboration is the key to working effectively in the 21st century and there is tremendous power and knowledge in your network.

Social media has opened new doors for leaders to empower their people through sharing information openly and tapping into the vast expertise of their network of relationships. Above all, trust is an absolute essential ingredient for leading successfully in the social world, and that’s a trend that will never go out of style.

Four Trust Boosters For Your Social Media Strategy

Social media is an essential corporate strategy today. For many organizations it has become the primary communication vehicle with their customers, transforming the once traditional advertising and public relations channels of print, radio, or television, into real-time tweets, blogs, or Facebook posts.

Social Media is a fantastic way to develop your market reach, extend your brand, and nurture customer relationships, but if not done correctly, it can end up eroding trust and working against the very goals you’re trying to accomplish.

Because of the instantaneous, easily propagated, and far-reaching nature of social media, your “trust busting” gaffes have the potential to create exponentially more damage than an ill-worded press release. Perhaps you’re familiar with some of these recent social media disasters:

  • Shortly after an 8.6-magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Thailand and residents were rushing to higher ground in fear of a possible tidal wave, KFC Thailand posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging residents to “hurry home this evening to monitor the earthquake situation and don’t forget to order the KFC menu, which will be delivered direct to your hands.”
  • During the Arab Spring of last year, fashion company Kenneth Cole made light of the situation by tweeting that people in Cairo were rioting because they heard the company’s new spring collection had become available for purchase online.
  • In May of last year, a representative of New Media Strategies, the vendor handling the social media communications for Chrysler, tweeted out his personal frustrations about his morning commute via Chrysler’s Twitter account. The tweet read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.”

There’s no replacement for common sense when it comes to how you communicate your message via social media, but common sense isn’t always common practice. Here’s four ways to build trust through your social media efforts:

1. Stick to your knitting – People participate in your social media community because they value your product, service, or brand. For the most part, they don’t care about your political views, religious beliefs, or want to hear your commentary on the issues of the day. “Stay in your lane,” is the phrase the U.S. Air Force uses to instruct its members to stick to their area of expertise in using social media. It’s much harder to stick your foot in your mouth when you’re speaking out of your area of expertise than it is when venturing into new territory.

2. Be responsive –  Participating in social media means being involved in a community. It takes time and effort to cultivate relationships, and only engaging in one way communication to your followers, rather than with your followers, will erode their trust and eventually cause them to lose interest in you. If you use a social media account as part of a customer service strategy, make sure it’s constantly monitored and concerns are addressed immediately.

3. Define the playing field – Many companies have been slow to adopt an intentional, well thought out strategy for how their employees should use social media. A notable example of this was highlighted last year in the case of Noah Kravitz, the former editor-in-chief of the tech blog Phone Dog. When Kravitz left the employ of Phone Dog, he took the 17,000 followers of his Twitter account with him, which Phone Dog later sued over, claiming the followers should remain with the company and not Kravitz personally. If you haven’t created specific guidelines about the use of social media like IBM and Cisco have, you should consider putting something together that will help your people understand the boundaries of the playing field.

4. Be transparent – There will undoubtedly be negative feedback given to you via your social media channels. You can build trust by acknowledging the feedback and saying what you’re going to do to address the situation. An excellent example of this is the way Southwest Airlines handled a series of complaints from Hollywood film director Kevin Smith. Southwest immediately responded to his complaints, apologized for his experience, stated what they were doing to address his situation, and kept the tone of the conversation positive and conciliatory. Don’t delete the negative comments or get in a war of words, but remain professional, positive, and authentic in the way you communicate with your followers.

Having a social media presence is no longer a “nice to have” for organizations; it’s a must-have. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward in cultivating high-trust relationships with your social media followers by sticking to your area of expertise, instructing your employees on the proper use of social media, and being responsive and transparent with your followers.

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