There’s a meme that has been floating around social media for a while that really cracks me up. The statement attributed to Mike Tyson goes something like this, “Social media made y’all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.”
Now before we continue, let me be clear that I am not advocating for punching people in the face because they were mean on Twitter. Please don’t think that is the message.
However, I think there is wisdom to be gleaned from the quote. It is amusing to me – amused twice in one blog, pretty rare – the modern-day phenomenon known as “Twitter feud.” That’s right, grownups, in many cases famous and “professional” grownups, have public confrontations over social media. They literally can be thousands of miles apart physically but are still able to have a spat. Ridiculous.
But do leaders sometimes have their own version of this? Perhaps not a spat because, goodness knows, leaders can’t be challenged. Instead it takes the form of writing things in emails that we wouldn’t say face-to-face. That we wouldn’t tell somebody but for some reason feel it’s ok to text.
Leadership is about relationships. Real ones – not the Facebook friend type. There’s a reason why so many long-distance relationships that have been formed virtually don’t last. Because being face-to-face is an entirely different dynamic than texting, emailing, etc. Think of it in terms of a water park. Texting and emailing are the splash pads of the park. Shallow. Quick. All over the place. While the pool is completely different. Immersive. Deep. Requires effort.
Leadership is work – people work. Too often we try to accomplish leadership using keyboards. What we should be using as our primary tool is talking. Building and developing relationships. Communicating, both by listening and speaking, intentionally and often.
Do not get caught up in the ease of using channels that involve no physical contact with your people. Get out of your office / cubicle / car and talk to your folks. Face-to-face.