You May Lead, But Do You Influence?

You May Lead, But Do You Influence?

Who are the leaders in corporate sustainability? When you hear that question, do you think of an individual or a brand name? The average business-aware person would likely spout brand names like Unilever or Coca Cola, given the coverage they get for various sustainability related practices. But, does knowing that these corporations “lead” mean they also influence others in learning and furthering sustainability in the broader sense? Not necessarily.

Individuals have much more power to influence.

Consider Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman as a theoretical example. He represents a global entity that has gained a lot of credibility in recent years for innovative sustainability practices across brands and continents. But, how many interested parties have built what feels like human-scale connection with him? Is there a way to sense what may drive him personally or what might be at the root of the positive change he guides at Unilever? Imagine the potential of his influence if there were.

Taking Time for Executive Influence

It is understandable, of course, that C-Suite executives might not feel they have time to truly connect with their many and varied stakeholder audiences. But, in this digital world, social media should be seen as an incredible way to get around those constraints. To be sure, those who do effectively engage on social networks are not “finding” time so much as they are “taking” time to invest in social capital building.

And, taking versus finding time can be the difference in developing real influence. It simply involves more intention and strategy to deliver the most powerful results.

In fact, as corporate responsibility author/consultant Alice Korngold mentions in her April 2014 HuffingtonPost piece (citing the 2014 BRANDFog 2014 Social CEO Survey ) : “61 percent of US respondents and 50 percent of UK respondents are more likely to purchase from a company whose values and leadership are clearly communicated through executive leadership participation on social media.”

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