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  • Aleksander Mitrovic

9 things executives can learn from online influencers

In the rapidly changing world of VUCA, executives have to develop into influencers and build their network of relationships online. Executives can learn a lot from the influencers.

How long is a manager a leader? As long as other people follow their ideas, initiatives.

Managers share this fate with online influencers. They too are only influencers as long as they have followers. And the remarkable thing about it is: Their followers follow them completely voluntarily; they allow themselves to be influenced and inspired by their ideas without any compulsion.

1. Influencers show themselves.

As banal as this sounds, an important success factor for all influencers online is:

They ensure that they are visible, for example by regularly feeding their social media channels and maintaining their virtual network. The same applies to all people who are or want to be an influencer.

For example, it is noticeable how often our top politicians have been sitting on TV talk shows in the evenings after the outbreak of the corona pandemic to convey their thoughts and actions to the population. This means that a manager who only hides behind their desk never becomes an influencer, because a prerequisite for this is: You have to actively seek communication with the network partners.

2. Influencers are recognizable for certain values.

Almost all successful influencers, not only on the internet, have a clear message or stand for certain values. This should also be the case with executives, otherwise they are unpredictable for their network partners.

If, you fluctuate in your thoughts and actions like a straw in the wind, you will have problem to establish trust with your audience. And this leads to the fact that people are unwilling to follow you and your ideas and beliefs. However, this is particularly important in uncertain times like the current one. In them, trust is the decisive success factor.

3. Influencers stage their appearances.

Successful influencers don't leave their appearance to chance. They stage their performances in order to achieve the desired effect. In this regard, many managers still have development potential.

This can be seen, for example, in the online meetings that have taken place increasingly since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. As an observer you keep track of them:

  • the executives often log in as the last participant, often even late,

  • they often wear very casual casual clothing when they work in the home office,

  • they often hang limp on their chair and

  • in the background you can see, for example, a beach picture with palm trees.

One message that the executives actually always want to convey to their employees in online meetings is: “We are now working more in the home office, but otherwise: business as usual.” However, the opposite message often emanates from their appearance.

Such a mishap rarely happens to a manager who sees himself as an influencer, because he or she reflects on every digital or real public appearance:

  • What impact do I want to achieve?

  • What message do I want to convey

  • How should I therefore present or stage myself?

4. Influencers want to be a trustworthy brand.

Behind the staging of the influencer's appearances is also the desire: You want to establish yourself as a brand. A brand is characterized by two factors:

  • It is recognizable due to its appearance.

  • It gives the customer a clear value proposition.

Influencers also stand for certain beliefs that are reflected in their behavior or appearance. Managers should also stand for certain basic convictions and attitudes in a recognizable way for their network partners - for example:

  • "I am reliable. You can rely on my statements. "

  • "I am ready to break new ground."

They should also give their "followers" a promise of performance, for example:

  • "I involve you in my opinion forming and decision-making processes as far as possible."

  • "When the going gets tough, I'll be behind you."

5. Influencers broadcast on many channels.

Successful influencers communicate with their followers not only via a medium such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, but also on various channels, depending on which message they want to convey and what effect they want to achieve.

Managers also need this competence today. You need to know, for example, which messages you can convey by email, in online meetings or via social media and when should I seek a personal conversation or pick up the phone.

Managers therefore need a certain level of media skills. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the various communication and information channels in order to use them in a targeted manner.

6. Influencers interact with their followers.

Influencers know how important it is to interact with followers. Therefore, they try to communicate as much as possible with their followers, for example in chat forums to find out, among other things:

  • How satisfied are they with my "performance"?

  • Which topics are they concerned with?

  • What are their interests?

  • How do they rate certain facts / products?

They use this information to improve their online presence and to make sure that they are not a flash in the pan. They also let the “feedback” of their followers flow into their posts in order to signal to them: I take care of you and your interests; You are important to me. Managers should act similarly.

7. Influencers also show themselves as people with feelings.

Almost all influencers not only online give their followers well dosed insights into their private and emotional life, primarily so that they can also be experienced as a person and to build an emotional relationship with them.

Managers who strive for a cooperative partnership with their employees also often do so in communication with their employees, for example, by including information about their hobbies in the conversation. Or by specifically mentioning in the conversation that the Corona situation is unsettling you too.

These statements are often the impetus for their employees to open up and give their manager an insight into their emotional life. In this respect, such “revelations” on the part of managers are particularly important in the current pandemic situation, in which their employees are often extremely insecure.

And what if the employees are in the home office and therefore do not have a lot of normal discussion occasions? Then managers should consider to what extent they can partially compensate for this with the help of social media so that the emotional relationship between them and their employees does not tear off.

8. Influencers react calmly to criticism.

Influencers also make mistakes (from the perspective of their followers), for example, because they misjudged the mood or interests of their followers. Then they often receive harsh criticism, which sometimes leads to a shit storm.

But experienced influencers never react to this, at least externally recognizable and never offend and withdraw from communication. Rather, they use this as an opportunity to enter into an even more intensive dialogue with their followers and explain the reasons for their actions to them.

You should also admit mistakes according to the maxim “Shit happens, I'm only human too”, apologize for this and learn from it. Managers should react to criticism in a similar way, because this ultimately shows the “involvement” of the employees and gives them the opportunity to take countermeasures if necessary.

9. Influencers are ready to break new ground.

Influencers too often have to break new ground, for example,

  • because their target audience is increasingly migrating from Facebook to Instagram

  • because the target group follows a trend and develops new preferences

  • because certain posts have less traffic

  • because they have evolved themselves

Such “strategy changes” often meet with resistance from their followers and in some cases they even terminate their followers. Nevertheless, influencers always tread this path when overarching goals require it. Managers must also have a corresponding backbone.

Despite all the empathy, willingness to compromise and loyalty that you show in contact with your employees, it must always be clear, certain goals such as “Our company must make a profit” or “It must not run into liquidity problems” are non-negotiable. This is essential because of their function in the organization.

Influencing is tomorrow's leadership

Due to the changed framework conditions in business and society, influencing is tomorrow's leadership. Because only if managers succeed in getting other people enthusiastic about themselves and their ideas, they can still successfully carry out their increasingly complex management tasks in the VUCA world, which is characterized by rapid change and less plannability. As lone fighters or "lonely heroes" without fellow campaigners or followers, they will have hard time to be successful. That's why they should learn from the influencers online.

If you want to find out more on influencers, please click here.

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