What Leadership Requires: Lessons from Facebook

Facebook is under considerable scrutiny right now as the public is learning how our personal information may have been used for political means. With almost weekly news of some company experiencing a data leak, digital fraud or privacy setting security issues, it would seem we would become almost numb to this type of behavior. So why is this news so jarring? For most people, Facebook is considered a leader in digital communication and we expect more from the leader.

Holding a leadership role is not just about making the most money, having the most followers or coming out with the hottest new innovation. It is about setting industry standards, inspiring future leaders and guiding others to expand their contributions. This is true in any industry, including public affairs.

With over a decade under our belt, The Herald Group has grown into our leadership role by listening to our clients’ issues and setting a strategy that we truly think will solve them. We believe in looking beyond the horizon and plotting out a smart path forward for our clients so that we are not just reacting to their issues, but also leading them toward success. Our strength is not necessarily in our size or our following, but rather our propensity for fostering leadership and growth for our clients and our colleagues.

As Facebook is learning, maintaining a leadership role is not always a guarantee and requires a consistent focus on what made us leaders in the first place. This commitment requires:

  • Transparency in Goal Setting: Communicating the broader goal at every level to ensure that everyone understands how their work aligns with that goal. This also requires being open to questions and criticism.
  • Never Allowing the Goal to Overshadow the Process: With the broader goal in mind, leaders are also often intimately involved in the day-to-day process to ensure we are meeting the goal in the right way. A major mistake should never be a surprise.
  • Always Considering the Future: Be constantly looking ahead for the next challenge or opportunity. It isn’t enough to have a great win and then sit back and congratulate ourselves. One win should beget the next and help propel us to the next level.
  • Sharing in Our Success: As a leader, recognizing that we are only as strong as the team that supports us is crucial. Sharing in the wins is a surefire way to build loyalty and respect among our colleagues and clients.

No doubt Facebook will weather this storm, but changes are inevitable to get them back on track with the other leaders in their space. We can all learn from this example and continue to set a tone within our own industries of respect and responsibility.