Executives have the opportunity to glean invaluable wisdom from influencers regarding how to manage … [+]
In the high-stakes chess game of corporate leadership, today’s executives face an ironic paradox: they possess expertise and vision, yet struggle to articulate their strategic message and drive fundamental change. It’s like knowing all the moves on the board but struggling to align the pieces—people, processes, and perceptions. No wonder the failure rate of organization transformations is still around 70%! In today’s uncertain world, leading change successfully has become the lifeblood of business strategy and innovation. But many executives continue to cling to the same old buttons that always fall short, even though there’s a wealth of wisdom on effective change leadership. So, where do we turn now? The solution to this leadership puzzle might just be hiding in an unlikely spot – the realm of social media influencers. These digital trendsetters have a knack for sparking change and making it go ‘viral’ among their followers, dishing out three priceless lessons for those steering the corporate ship.
Let’s face it, the influencer culture has taken the world by storm. With a global influencer marketing value of over $21 billion today, more than doubling since 2019, it’s clear why. Social influencers have mastered the art of authenticity, forging connections with their audience through genuine relatability. And guess what? They have the power to influence behavior on a massive scale. According to a study, a staggering 82% of people have either made a purchase or considered buying a product or service after seeing friends, family, or influencers promote it. This stands in stark contrast to the ability of CEOs to drive behavioral shifts in the workplace. Recent debates around returning to the office and concerns about AI have exposed a significant gap in the authentic leadership needed to propel change. In fact, a captivating GE and Ipsos poll found that a whopping 40% of entry-level employees feel their CEOs don’t “walk the walk” and crave more authenticity.
So what’s the lesson here for executives leading change?
Navigating change can be incredibly daunting, but as an executive pushing for transformation, it’s important to embrace vulnerability. Don’t shy away from expressing your own apprehensions and aspirations. Be honest, share your journey – the struggles and triumphs. It’s not just about financial outcomes, it’s about connecting with your employees on a deeper level. They’re likely experiencing similar emotions. This fosters a connection rooted in authenticity and mutual understanding. By humanizing the process of change, you inspire trust and commitment towards your shared vision.
Social influencers have a remarkable impact on their followers for a reason: they’re not just broadcasters, but listeners too. They actively engage in conversations, responding to comments, questions, and even seeking feedback. By tapping into the collective intelligence and creativity of their community, they generate fresh ideas, insights, and solutions. It’s no wonder that 62% of U.S. influencers intentionally connect with their followers to spark behavioral shifts and achieve remarkable success.
On the other hand, corporate executives often rely on a top-down approach when leading change, focusing heavily on governance and hierarchy. While this approach may seem logical given the investment and pressure for transformation ROI, it unfortunately fosters a “because I have to” mentality among employees, resulting in limited, sustainable behavior change. In fact, studies show that top-down changes driven solely by upper management have a success rate of only 34%, while open source changes that involve employees and management co-creating initiatives have a success rate of 58%.
How can executives engage and co-create better?
Let’s begin by transforming your change strategy into a captivating conversation. Welcome everyone from all parts of the organization, not just the executive team, and demonstrate that the hunger for change goes beyond just you. Inspire others to envision what is possible. Harness the power of storytelling to ignite emotions that deeply resonate with your audience. Sometimes, people need to imagine an unbroken future to recognize the brokenness of the present. And remember, when people share their input, be ready to incorporate their desires into your strategy too.
Companies know that when they hire influencers, these influencers may not reach every customer segment directly. However, their strength lies in their ability to connect with a passionate and trusting niche audience. This audience, although smaller, is likely to be highly engaged and more inclined to adopt new behaviors or endorse products and services, ultimately influencing a broader section of the company’s customer base. By focusing on the impact influencers have within their networks, organizations leverage this trust-based influence to instigate widespread behavioral change.
Executives often fall into the trap of casting a wide net, hoping for an instant adoption of change by their entire workforce. However, this expectation is not only unrealistic but also paves the way for potential failure, disregarding the diverse range of individual responses to change. Fascinating studies on successful social movements reveal that securing the unwavering belief of just 10% of the population can ignite the broader adoption of that belief within the community. This underscores the transformative power of a dedicated minority who can serve as the initial catalysts of change.
What is the key insight that executives should glean from this?
Rather than pressuring the entire organization to immediately embrace your change vision, focus on a dedicated and influential subset within your organization. This dynamic group, armed with a shared understanding of your vision, can leverage their social capital to ignite widespread organizational change. Watch as your vision transforms into a tangible reality through their remarkable influence.
So, the next time you’re scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, spare a thought for the social media influencers you encounter. Their authenticity, engagement, and niche influence aren’t just there for likes and comments, but they are cornerstones that executives can learn from to effect change. In the end, being an executive may not be too dissimilar from being an influencer – it’s all about leveraging your influence to inspire change, one post (or decision) at a time.
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