To Be Able To Lead, You Have To Be Able To Listen

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There are business owners who are very, very hesitant to embrace social media. They understand how important social media is in today’s business environment – after all, as research firm Chadwick, Martin, Bailey points out, “…an impressive 51% of Facebook fans and 67% of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.” – but they’re afraid.

They’re afraid, because not everyone on social media says nice things. Having a Facebook page or a Twitter profile simply invites nastiness from the public, or so the logic goes. There are business owners who are so worried that someone will say something negative about them or their business that they’re opting out completely out of social media.


You’re Not the Only One

I’d like to be able to introduce these business owners to Shinzo Abe. He’s a man who knows a little something about facing negative commentary. He’s the current Prime Minister of Japan. In this Huffington Post story, you can read about some of the challenges Prime Minister Abe is facing. In his country, the economy is stagnant, women’s economic opportunities are severely limited, and the national suicide rate has steadily been creeping upward. To solve these challenges, the Prime Minister is introducing some bold and controversial changes into Japanese society.

It is at this moment – the time at which people are most likely to have negative things to say about the Prime Minister and his leadership – that Prime Minister Abe has made a whole-hearted embrace of social media. He has nearly 340,000 Facebook fans and 100,000 Twitter followers. Rather than shy away from their commentary, the Prime Minister has a different approach. He says, “Of course it’s a two-way conversation. We need to respond to the messages we get as much as we need to send our own,” he said. “If we include any wrong facts in our messages there will immediately be someone to fact-check us. I know that whenever I make a mistake on my Facebook account, there are always people who point it out.”

In this comment, we see Prime Minister Abe acknowledging the need to interact with his constituents, listening to their concerns and focusing on solving their problems. He even seems appreciative of his constituents’ input on the country’s business.

It sounds like a pretty good definition of customer service, if you ask me. To lead his country in a new direction, Prime Minister Abe has taken on the risk that comes with listening: at times he will encounter things he doesn’t necessarily want to hear.


Are You Brave Enough To Lead?

Are you willing to take on a similar risk in order to lead your company in a newer, more profitable direction? It’s important to understand that staying off of social media presents a different sort of risk for the small business owner: the risk of being completely invisible – and therefore irrelevant – to your customers.

There’s no way to get out of this risk free. Being on social media has its risks, and so does not being on social media. As a small business owner, you have to decide which risk is providing your business with a better reward.

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