The Digital Conversationalist

The Social Leadership Manifesto

A social leader is in tune with the world’s moments

I’ve noticed some people posting on LinkedIn asking us to be mindful of what we share right now. The essence of the message is: be conscious of not participating out of alignment with the world’s moment – the war in Ukraine. I completely agree with these posts, but the responses have been interesting.

People are saying: I can do whatever I want, who are you to tell me otherwise? And they are correct, they can do whatever they want. But what is the cost of not being in tune with this moment in time? That is the bigger question.

The posts I’m referencing have a nuance I don’t believe is being understood by many who are commenting. They are also talking about two different types of posts.

  1. Business as usual – the top-10-tips type posts. They do no harm, of course, but for anyone deeply engaged in this moment, they feel out-of-place and out of tune – because essentially, nothing else is important right now. What’s happening in the Ukraine matters and escalation could quickly consume the world. A military parallel in history is The Cuban Missile Crisis (captured in the film “Thirteen Days”) with many across the world holding their breath, focused on nothing else
  2. Aligning their business to the war – and this is the really obvious one you do not do. I’ve seen this time and time again over the years. You should never sell on the back of suffering. You should not link what you do or what you sell to this war. It’s a big no no. If you do this, you will lose instant credibility. For most this is obvious, but for some, it is not. It is a time requiring deep empathy

But we must be patient with each other too

This is so important. We must tap into deep wells of empathy for each other and be patient – as we’ve had to be throughout the pandemic, especially at the beginning of it. Remember that time when we were all trying to make sense of what was going on? It’s similar for many right now. They are struggling to comprehend.  

People are extremely emotional right now too, with fear ricocheting around the globe, and when you’re emotional, it’s easy to make mistakes. As an example, I shared something I later deleted. I agreed with the main part of a post, but didn’t agree with a smaller detail in it. It was out of alignment with me. That was a lesson learnt and a reminder to be more careful. We will make mistakes. Be forgiving.

When it comes to this war, some of us comprehended it’s very real threat immediately. We understand that if it escalates, the whole world could be consumed by it, and that’s a terrifying reality to face. We cannot afford war. We cannot afford the unleashing of nuclear weapons either, with Putin threatening the worst possible outcomes if the West gets involved. It’s a VERY scary time. There is incredible uncertainty about where this is going.

We also have a LinkedIn community in the Ukraine, and they have been sharing how they went from life as normal – chasing dreams, pursuing ambitions, posting on LinkedIn, having fun on Tik Tok – to now running for their lives into times of deep uncertainty, horror, and devastating loss. We need to be there for them. We need to be in-tune with their anguish, as a show of respect.

And yet, some are not paying attention at all

There are many who are not understanding this crisis or they just aren’t ready to face it. Some can’t/don’t want to grasp it – it’s too frightening to take on board, and others are just not interested. It’s too far away and they don’t think it’s important to them.

There are also many who need more time to understand what this moment is about. They can’t get their heads around it. We must be patient and not attack them, and we should definitely never patronize or pontificate, because they will not listen if we do that – would you?

All we can do is share balanced information to help people understand why this moment matters. That’s what a social leader does in times of crisis. We help people understand the why, as well as what’s important to pay attention to.

We are also patient and understanding with different responses to a time like this. There is no right way to be, after all. We’re all in new territory.

A reminder, it’s never about you, it’s about your audience

However, the real point of this moment to take on board is, who is your audience and what do they care about? Are they consumed by what is happening? Are they terrified? And if the answer is yes, your business as usual content will likely annoy them, and possibly discredit you.

How do you know how your audience feels? Keep an eye out for what they are sharing on social media OR ask them – how are you feeling? How is the war in Ukraine impacting you?

This is not about what you want to share, it’s about what your audience values, and right now, in the middle of this crisis, understanding what your audience values is your job as a social leader.

You can do whatever you like, no question about that, but how that is being received by the people you are seeking to influence is what should matter to you.

It’s always important to be in tune with the world’s moments and how it impacts your audience. When it comes to being a professional participating on social media, this is a critical pillar of establishing and maintaining credibility. So I just really want to encourage everyone to keep this in mind.

Just because you don’t care or don’t think it’s important, doesn’t mean your audience doesn’t care, and when it comes to social leadership, it’s all about serving your audience. It’s never about you.

Keep hope alive

Remember, read widely, read different views (that’s why I do my Weekend Reads), verify everything, try and take the emotions out of it so you can see the story clearly, pause before posting, breath and most importantly, keep hope alive. There is always hope. We can make it through this time, but cool heads must prevail.

While we’re seeing the worst of human nature right now, we’re also seeing the best of humanity on display everywhere. Hold onto that. Look for it. Celebrate it. We can do it.

We can rise to this moment, and wouldn’t that be the best outcome of this war – if we could turn the world around and point it in the direction of healing, uniting, and collectively solving the biggest challenges we face?

That’s always where my hope lies. The belief it is possible. So in the meantime, just be conscious of what you’re sharing and how it’s being received by your audience. That’s all anyone is asking and it’s for your benefit too.

I hope this is useful and I welcome respectful conversations and arguments, as always.



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