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How does social media affect leadership?

Tan Wee Keng

Tan Wee Keng

CEO, Tollyjoy Baby Products

There is no ignoring the influence of social media in consumer habits, personal opinion, and as we have recently witnessed, the outcome of electoral decisions. Important as it is as eyes and ears to the market, social media alone does not dictate leadership direction. As vanguards of the brand, leaders need to be guided by the core values and principles that define and determine their approach to dealing with all their stakeholders, be it customers, business partners and employees. So while social media has changed the playing field of engagement which we need to be fully aware of to remain relevant in the ever changing face of new trends and technology, it is essentially the responsibility of leaders to ensure that the company stays true to its roots in its delivery of consistency and integrity to meet their brand promise.

2. Malvin Foo

Founder, The Maven Co

Borderless, instantaneous and engaging – it is hardly breaking news that social media has become ubiquitous in our daily lives as viral videos and articles from Facebook and Twitter take over as conversation starters. Gone are the days when organisations controlled the flow of information as social media continues to tip the balance and power to influence towards individuals. Today’s leaders needs to be comfortable driving real time social conversations while navigating the risks that come with an environment they have little control over. Organisations or individuals cannot be acknowledged as a leader if nobody knows what they excel in. This makes it an exciting time for us, startups, to leverage social media to level the playing field and create a new working model for the 21st century that deftly incorporates social media into our workflows.

3. Mark Yong

President, Singapore Furniture Industries Council

With its borderless platforms to air views and gather feedback, social media channels have made leadership more powerful, yet, more human and vulnerable as the communication gap narrows between leaders and their audiences. It confers leaders with new power, allowing them to carry out conversations with and influence a wide spectrum of people – anywhere and anytime. At the same time, leaders in the social media age need to be more consultative, sensitive and responsive to different nuances of culture, gender and age. Empathy and integrity have become even more salient and significant as leaders and their actions can now be “judged” almost instantly by the public. Besides exceptional communications skills, the looks, the body language of the new age leaders are equally important as social media becomes more visual with more people consuming and digesting info through images and videos.

4. Frederick Wong

MD & VP-APAC, TrustYou

With user-generated content freely available in the public domain, news delivers ever faster through social media than was possible with traditional media, so business leaders can easily stay abreast of evolving trends, market conditions and consumer sentiments. This enables leaders to reflect, strategise and engage with more clarity. Businesses have traditionally paid close attention to their consumer feedback, however, social media enables consumer feedback to be strewed across the web, which has scaled to a point beyond manual tracking efforts. Managers need to invest and adopt sophisticated technologies, for example, machine learning and semantic analysis, to intently listen to consumer feedback and gain insights that help create actions to improve and innovate; better catering to their customer needs. Social media has made it essential for leaders to embrace transparent communications to build intimate relationships with their customers.

5. Richard Paine

MD, Paya Lebar Quarter by Lendlease

Social Media is making it easier to reach out to and engage team members in a more dynamic and timely way. It broadens the reach and amplifies the message. It is an alternative way for leaders to engage directly with their teams, and extends traditional lines of communication between senior leadership and employees. A progressive business knows to look for ideas, interactions and collaborations across business functions, and recognises that social media is another way to facilitate such knowledge sharing. Externally, social media helps to humanise a company’s communications with stakeholders, establishing a more immediate rapport and building valuable brand loyalty. This is critical in the dynamic media landscape of today. Progressive leaders should leverage social media on a personal and strategic organisational level to encourage creative thinking and enrich dialogue.

Compiled by Rumi Hardasmalani (rumih [at]

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