Should Leaders be Allowed to Tweet?

Rupert Murdoch
Photograph: David Shankbone 2011

Everyone accepts that leaders should communicate with their staff, and most would admit that there is always room for more. Conventional wisdom, backed by quite a lot of research, suggests that for a message to get through, it needs to be repeated seven times. But of course, the content has to be useful if it is to have positive impact.

So what about Rupert Murdoch? Someone has allowed him a Twitter account and boy is he using it given the number of apologies he has recently had to give. As the Telegraph politely reported on 19 October 2012: “The Australian-born executive has gained a reputation for plain speaking since joining the site earlier this year.”

Some might think this an understatement and substitute the words ‘pointe’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘insulting’ for plain speaking. Others might say that the reputation has been around for some time.

This illustrates the dangers of allowing those in positions of influence to speak their mind. On the other hand, it might also illustrate the value of allowing those in positions of influence to expose themselves for what they really are.

People in leadership positions influence no matter what they do, even if it’s doing nothing. So perhaps we should argue that all leaders should be given a Twitter account so that the people who work with and for them can get to know what they really think – and how happy they are to have them as their leader.

 So how is Twitter or its equivalent used in your organisation?

 And if you have an account, how do you use it bearing in mind that ultimately it’s hard consistently to be something you’re not.

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