Join Charlene Li for an in-depth discussion in this video Choose the right type of engagement, part of Charlene Li on Digital Leadership.
- Engagement is really messy. As a leader, you're thinking about all of this digital activity that's out there. And looking at it, it feels like you have to dive into this muck, get really dirty. And you wonder if you're ever gonna get out of it. Well the key to being able to craft that leadership strategy for yourself while on engagement is to pick the right type of engagement that fits your leadership style and your leadership objectives. I break it down to three types of engagement.
The first one is event-based. This is where you can pull people together for a town hall, or a quarterly meeting. And you can use these digital tools to reach hundreds, if not thousands of people. And this is more than just a broadcast of a radio, a video, or a talk. This is really about having a conversation with people, where you're using digital channels on the front end and on the back end to surface questions, conversations, engage with people in real time.
But it's constrained, it's contained. It's for a very specific event and place and time. As an example, Humana's CEO, Bruce Brussard, started with an event around 6,000 of their key leaders across the globe, found that this is really interesting and great format to engage the leadership. And then open it up at the next quarterly meeting to 55,000 employees all over the world again. This is a very large, but in many ways, a controlled way for a leader to be able to experiment and move into the digital space.
This is something that, again as a leader, you're probably very used to: having meetings, having an agenda, having very clear outcomes of what you will be talking about. And the area that will be focused on the engagement is really the Q and A, but happening at scale. The second type of engagement is what I call participatory engagement. This is where you're inviting a large audience of people you're trying to reach to answer a question, to discuss a topic, to really engage over a period of time, around a particular issue.
At Telstra, a large telecom company in Australia, one of the things they did early on is used an internal social network to answer a question. And that question was this: "If you could end 10 different processes or procedures "at the company because they're a waste of time "you thought, what would they be?" And the executives, particularly their CEO made the commitment that they would answer each one by explaining why they were keeping it and it was needed, or getting rid of it. Now within the first hour of this post internally 700 people posted up what they thought should be stopped in terms of company processes.
Can you imagine, 700 people across 40,000 employees, immediately, within an hour, wanting to say and having to be sure that their voice was heard. This is an incredible outpouring of pent-up demand for change. And in many ways, what those employees were experiencing, was this engagement from the executives and a commitment from their part that they would actually listen to them, hear what they were sharing, engage with them in a dialog about what was going to change or not change, and then make sure that there was follow-through that all of this would happen.
You can imagine what those employees felt like. Their transformation of that relationship between executives and employees was completely changed because of this level of engagement. The third type of engagement is a personal one. And I'll go back to Telstra again and the former CEO, David Thodey, would frequently jump into customer engagement on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. There was this one exchange that I witnessed where he was answering somebody's complaint about the web chat not working.
And he just said, "Hey, I'm sorry that you're "worried about this and concerned that it hasn't "been addressed. "I'm gonna make sure that our team is on this." And he made sure that he messaged them in that tweet as well. I asked him about this. And I said, "David, what are you doing? "Are you doing customer service? "I mean you're the CEO of this really large "telecom company. "Honestly, is this a good use of your time?" And his response was really telling. He said to me, "I jump into customer issues "because it's dear to my heart." That's because his number one objective as a leader, as a CEO, was to make sure that the company was much more customer-focused, customer-obsessed.
And he said, "How can I be a leader, a credible leader, "if I didn't demonstrate how we do this. "How can I ask my entire company to understand, "engage with customers across all channels "if I can't do it myself." By setting that example, he's the epitome, I think, of a digital leader. One who is willing to engage. Engage at a personal level when he sees the need to do that. The key to engagement, I believe, is to very intentional about your engagement.
When will you engage? Under what circumstances? And be very thoughtful and strategic about how your engagement is going to lead to transformation.
In this course, she explains the three steps for extending leadership into the digital space: listening, sharing, and engaging. With her tips, you can transform your professional relationships with employees, peers, and influencers. At the end of each chapter, she provides a list of questions to help you get started on your next step.
- Listening at scale
- Scanning your environment
- Choosing the right type of engagement
- Cultivating followers