While there will be unique circumstances for every company and every individual, it is my belief that firms should expand their search criteria for leadership roles, including that of the CEO, and they may be surprised at where talent comes from.
Diverse thinking and data-driven decision making
Right now, companies may not think that their future CEO would come from the social media team. Yet these employees’ CEO potential is being overlooked.
These are individuals that have spent their entire careers at the cutting edge of consumer trends and digital transformation.
Not only do they have first-hand experience of the merits of proactively embracing emerging technologies, but they equally have the technical nous needed to implement and utilize them successfully.
From a data perspective, it’s worth remembering that successful social media campaigns are driven by analytics.
With access to sophisticated tools and rich social data, social media managers are steeped in industry data and have unparalleled knowledge of key trends to inform and drive strategic decision making across a business.
They see the importance of data-driven insights and know how to make the most of them – something that is critically important to modern business.
Indeed, one study suggests that businesses that base decisions on data are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.
While a social media origin might seem unusual for a CEO, there are distinct advantages to opening up leading roles to diverse skill sets and hires.
By doing so, it’s well documented by Talent Insight Group that organizations can eliminate any sense of complacency and sameness in thinking that is more likely to occur in homogeneous teams.
For firms to be successful and progressive, they need to embrace innovative approaches and fresh perspectives – bringing alternative and unexpected viewpoints to the table.
Therefore, the skillsets homed in social media management in using data to unlock vital insights and drive enhanced business decisions should not be underestimated.
Soft skills are important – and social media managers have them
Social media managers are known for working across multiple departments giving them unprecedented and innate knowledge of the organization.
Additionally, they’re often described as being great in a crisis and extremely good at multitasking, meaning they tend to be useful in just about any area of a business.
Furthermore, they’re often overlooked but soft skills are key to any successful CEO. Having the right interpersonal attributes in a company figurehead can be critical in enhancing morale and improving company culture.
This is an area where social media managers would excel as leaders. It’s important for CEOs to listen to their customers, employees, and other key stakeholders in order to take a diverse set of opinions on board.
For social media managers, this is critical. They need to engage with stakeholders so they can resonate with their target audiences, listening to uncover trends and actionable insights from social conversations, which can then be used to inform a better marketing strategy.
They also need to be empathetic, with social media often comprising significant elements of customer care where managers need to ensure they leave a strong and lasting impression to build a loyal following.
Since it’s the job of a social media manager to effortlessly plan, create, manage, and deliver social content and campaigns as a team, publishing and scheduling relentlessly it is clear to see how the skills they acquire and possess could advance them into a C-suite position one day.
For instance, it is often their responsibility to amplify the company’s social reach and drive better marketing results by empowering employees to become brand advocates. To do this, they need to be inspiring and engaging individuals, an absolute must-have trait for any CEO.
Social-savvy CEOs benefit their organizations
It’s not just the right combination of soft and hard skills that social media managers bring to the table as potential CEO candidates. It’s also their active and engaging content they produce and share on social media that can be used as a benefit for the business.
A digital presence is critical for any successful brand. It is often how consumers engage with companies, and ultimately plays a massive role in shaping perceptions.
To make a company seem more human, it is important to unveil the face behind the brand. Research reveals that three in four consumers say that a CEOs presence on social media makes the brand more trustworthy.
Consumers don’t want to deal with a faceless corporate voice. They want to have human interactions and engage with a person. However, that means that the values, tone, style, and image of those key individuals is important.
Social media managers are well aware of this and are versed in amplifying a company’s personal online presence with that of the organization – ensuring that it aligns closely with the brand and its values to enhance marketing opportunities.
Historically when looking for a company’s next CEO people have automatically turned their attention to the latest aspiring manager fresh off the MBA conveyor belt. It’s become predictable, or even formulaic. Yet as proved above this isn’t necessarily the best approach.
Conventional ways of working have gone out the window and success today is measured differently to how it was before, meaning our approach to hiring needs to follow suit and be different as well.
But good things take time and by breaking down the required skill sets and experience for roles like CEO, we can begin to rethink what progression into this role looks like.
Ultimately, creating an approach which sidesteps cognitive biases and groupthink, while also building and cultivating the drivers of success for businesses in the future.
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