Leadership Q+A: Should CEOs avoid Tweeting?

By on June 10, 2013

Andrew St George, author of the Royal Navy Way of Leadership, says CEOs should use social media with caution.

Q: Can anyone be a leader?

Andrew St George: Yes they can. Leadership is within the reach of everyone – some people just need training.

Q: What will the leader of 2020 look like?

A: The behaviours will be the same, because leadership will always be about relations between people, and self-knowledge. However, the leadership challenges for 2020 are going to be many and various – particularly as companies respond to fast changing environments. The leaders who can steer organisations through that rapid change will need to be highly adaptable and resilient.

Q: Do you think there are distinct male and female styles of leadership?

A: Yes I do, depending on the culture and ethos of an organisation. For example, in an organisation where the culture leans towards consensual collaboration and cooperation, that will induce a particular kind of leadership style. A more directive environment – associated more with men – will produce another type of leadership style.

Q: What is the difference between leadership and management?

A: There’s a third term to consider, which is authority. Leadership is about setting direction and having a vision of the future, alongside knowledge of management. Management is about deploying, organising, and climbing; which are not leadership requirements. Authority is about having a moral and professional style which comes from expertise – for example, a surgeon will have authority because of her expertise, although she may not be in charge of the hospital. Or a charity may have a moral authority because of the groups they represent.

Q: How can leaders tackle the challenge of remote working?

A: You have to know your people, so that means you have to have time with them at some point. As you develop that relationship, you also build trust. Finally, you have to be able to delegate and have an instinct for the right people to delegate to.

Q: Should CEOs use social media websites such as Twitter?

A: This is a difficult one. If I were an investor, I’d be concerned if my CEO was tweeting. On the other hand, I’d be concerned if my CEO was out of touch. So you need to strike a balance.

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