Real Issues: MY BOSS…and my Facebook friend

real issues: my boss... and my facebook friend

By Gabrielle Lee

Senior OD Catalyst

Would you accept a Facebook friend request from your manager or senior leader? What would be the first thought in your mind if this ever happens to you?

But the converse is an interesting question — as a manager or senior leader, would you create a Facebook account in order to engage your constituents? This may sound like an extreme, but as we’ll share in this article, the principle behind why one might consider doing so undergirds all the following practical testimonials of how we have seen engaging leadership behaviours being weaved into the leadership philosophy of some of the most effective leaders we have partnered:


1. Keep your two feet on the ground

A senior leader that we know successfully implemented a series of no-frills, casual breakfast meetings in his organisation, with the objectives of staying connected to the people working in the frontline and operations. In these meetings, employees were more relaxed, there were no middle managers in attendance, and the ground staff had direct, unfiltered access to the senior leader. Similarly-styled meetings that you implement as a leader will allow employees to provide critical feedback and observations that the management may otherwise be removed from.and This will allow you to reflect on sentiments and issues from the ground to take timely actions.


2. Advocate the balance between stretch goals and empathy

The healthcare industry is not thought of to be one where leaders take risks, but this one leader has done just that; in the sense of entrusting his people with opportunities to challenge themselves. This leader provides many windows of learning for his employees and has pushed them to achieve stretch goals, while also watching out for their physiological wellbeing and ensuring that they are not overstretched to the point of illness. For example, he allowed his staff to be exempt from certain activities because she was overwhelmed at a point in time. As a leader, we can take every opportunity to stretch our individual team members, but never at the expense of having compassion with them.


3. Uphold principles of clarity and truth

We move so quickly through our day to day work that we sometimes do not give enough thought to how our actions are interpreted by others in the workplace. Or perhaps we do not have time to address misconceptions about our character. While it is easy to slight the matter of our reputation, two of the most important principles we impart to leaders is this: Clarity and Truth. We encourage leaders to ensure that there is no misunderstanding between them and their followers; that leadership intentions are absolutely understood along with actions and words.


4. Engage followers the way they want to be engaged

Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are just a few of the many digital tools used to connect people, both personally and professionally. We have witnessed how a leader learnt to use all these tools just so she could general social conversations with her employees - in a way that is relevant to them. She also found a way to integrate the use of these tools into her lifestyle so that it was not purely a “work” thing and neither was it a “personal” thing. Find the balance between your personal and public digital persona — as leaders, we are already public figures in our organisations. It is key to find an authentic voice in a space that a majority of numbers of both millennial and non-millenials are spending time on.


The underlying engaging leadership principle, we find, is prioritising time and space (including the digital space) to dialogue and understand about what truly matters to people that you lead, and taking prompt action. How have you taken time to connect with your people? Share your stories with us at!