Are you a Social Leader?

A couple of weeks ago I finished researching and writing a chapter for a new book entitled ‘SocialCEO’s – how to be a leader in the Social Age’.  The new book edited by Damian Corbett is to be published next year by Bloomsbury Business. It looks at how CEO’s globally are harnessing (or in many cases not harnessing) the power of social media in their leadership roles. I was invited to write about how the charity sector in the UK is rising to the challenge.

I begun my own foray into social media back in 2009 when I worked at the British Heart Foundation. One of the things I wrestled a lot with at the time was how I could justify spending precious professional time on social media. I had no idea or understanding of the benefits it might bring to me in my role as a leader in the charity sector – and I certainly had no comprehension of where the journey might take me.

As a former charity CEO – and now as a consultant working with CEOs and senior leaders in charities/non-profits – I have my own views of the some of the benefits and challenges of investing time in developing skills as a SocialCEO. Like many things in leadership there are a number of givens:

  • There will be things you excel at
  • There will be things you mess up
  • You will be continually learning
  • The best way to get started is to simply get stuck in!

It was therefore most interesting (and very heartening) talking to a good number of charity leaders and commentators as part of my research for the book. One thing was clear – there is definitely a growing momentum within the sector to embrace the opportunities that social media can offer to leaders of organisations. Many I spoke with believe that being (or becoming) a ‘SocialCEO’ should now be a clear line on the job description of any charity CEO.

Preaching to the converted?

Despite this very positive endorsement from many of the already ‘converted’ it is interesting to note that it is generally the people at the top of organisations who seem to have been slowest to understand and adapt to using social media as part of their leadership role.

In the book I talk about the fact that charities in the UK are currently under the most intense public, regulatory and media scrutiny. The role of Trustees, CEO’s and senior volunteers in charities has never been more important in terms of leading from the front and rising to these current challenges. Social media has a key role to play – not just in terms of your organisational responsibility but equally in terms of your own personal leadership.

As part of my research I found so much rich material (not least this infographic from Rival IQ). But to my mind there is nothing better than simply following and learning from those CEO’s who are currently leading the field as impressive SocialCEO’s. Take a look at the 2018 winners of the SocialCEO’s awards to find some great people to follow.


Although the working title of the new book is the ‘Social CEO’ we mustn’t forget that a significant majority of charities in the UK don’t have a CEO – but they will have leaders or senior volunteers leading the charge. As such, the term social CEO refers to any senior ‘leader’ (paid or voluntary) within the charity sector.


Former charity CEO passionate about helping charities and not for profit organisations across the UK to Thrive. With over 25 years experience I support people and charities to be the very best they can be. I set up Thrive Charity Consulting offering a wealth of insight, experience and expert advice. We help people to solve problems, overcome challenges and maximise individual and organisational effectiveness.

Contact us to find out how we could help your charity.

Leading in the Social Age Thrive Consulting


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