Leading through Facebook
It fascinates me where leaders decide to connect. We’ve all heard about Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcement on his Facebook page of his gift to the world in honor of his new daughter’s arrival. In case you have not heard, he and his wife are giving 99% percent of their Facebook shares while they are alive to charitable purposes.
Recently I was told about the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s Facebook page. It is worth looking at as an example of a leader demonstrating his humanity, courage and connectedness to communities and our troops. The reason I say courage is leaders have to have a thick skin to open themselves up and be fully transparent. Everyone has an opinion.
I was not sure what a Secretary of Defense does exactly but Wikipedia set me straight. Clearly, a job not for the faint-hearted. Essentially, he is the CEO of the Department of Defense. “The Secretary of Defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, subject only to the orders of the President, over all Department of Defense forces (the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Also the United States Coast Guard during any time it is transferred to the Department of Defense) for both operational and administrative purposes.”
You get some sense of what Carter does most days — giving speeches, visiting veterans, commenting on current events like the Paris attacks, visiting old haunts like Boston, memories of serving service members abroad on Thanksgiving — and the people he gets to see and make time for. You get to hear about how he views the world and what’s important to him. During his visit to Boston, he wrote, “This visit follows recent trips to Silicon Valley as part of my effort to break outside the ‘five-sided box’ and connect our Department with the important advancements in technology happening all across this country.” I was not sure what he meant by the five sided box comment but I presume it is the Pentagon. Breaking out of the box sounds just right to me when it comes to leadership.
This week was a particularly special week because he opened up all jobs in the military to women (“there will be no exceptions”). Comments galore. He wrote:
“When I became Secretary of Defense, I made a commitment to building America’s force of the future – the all-volunteer military that will defend our nation for generations to come. Like our outstanding force of today, our force of the future must continue to benefit from the best people America has to offer. In the 21st century, that requires drawing strength from the broadest possible pool of talent. This includes women, because they make up over 50 percent of America’s population. To succeed in our mission of national defense, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country’s talents and skills. We have to take full advantage of every individual who can meet our standards.
That is why today I announced my decision to open all military service occupations and positions to women. There will be no exceptions. This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they never could before. Today, we have the finest fighting force the world has ever known. With this decision, we take another step toward that continued excellence.”
It is not easy being a public figure — business, government or otherwise. But if you want to show your human side, listen to others, publicly engage, and connect, Facebook provides that opportunity. We could all dare to listen more to others and round out our reputations.