Lessons in Digital Leadership (from South Korea and Uganda)

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 16.47.37

In case you missed it: the South Korean President , Park Geun-hye , issued a press release last week that sent reverberations around the globe.

Her Klout score had gone up.

Yes , the leader of one of the most digitally connected nations on the planet , saw fit to announce that her score had risen from 65 to 82 – reflecting the “effective and positive” role of Government in efforts to connect with the public. 

Surely a leader making a fuss about their social influence scores and the rise in number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans should be concentrating on more important things?

I’m not so sure. I think engagement through social media IS important for the modern leader. As is an understanding of online influence.

She seems like fun too. I can’t understand her tweets but certainly the images accompanying her feed look more interesting than those of David Cameron. Check this out:

David Cameron - Crime and Meetings
David Cameron – Statistics and Meetings
Park Geun-hye - Toys and Funny Dog pictures
Park Geun-hye – Toy Cats and Funny Dogs

And it’s not just South Korea where you get sociable leaders. Last week I was having a twitter chat when who should wander into the conversation but Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. He popped in to thank me for my comments about his active twitter presence. Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 13.51.18

Just reflect on that statistic for one minute. 96% of his tweets are replies to the public. That is an incredible level of responsiveness and engagement that puts not just elected representatives to shame but also many organisations and brands.

So what’s the point of this post?

Well , the other day I was talking with a friend and we both realised we weren’t sure of the names of our local Councillors. We both follow quite a few highly sociable Councillors from all over the UK – but when it came to where we actually live we didn’t have a clue. Our fault or theirs?

We did a check on the online presence of a sample. We googled and checked up on 46 people and these were the results:

  • 6 had Twitter accounts (13%)
  • 2 had Facebook profiles (3%)
  • 1 was on LinkedIn
  • 2 had blogs – but hadn’t yet posted anything on them.

Catherine Howe has written about how the digital and networked society will need more digital and networked councillors. In a great piece she argues “transforming local democracy is going to take more than simply getting politicians to use Twitter.” I agree completely.

Really this isn’t about social media. It’s not even about the lack of political engagement. It’s about what appears to be a digital fault line between local leaders and the communities they represent. 

Community leaders have to embrace this new way of participation – placing themselves at the heart of networks and reaching out to collaborate and even co-produce new services.

Online presence is just the start – a minimum requirement. Establishing a relationship that values more than consultation and the occasional vote is the true challenge.

It’s time for the UK to up its game.


3 thoughts on “Lessons in Digital Leadership (from South Korea and Uganda)

  1. Great post Paul ☺ Very impressed with your tweet from Amama Mbabazi What will we think when we look back on this time in Social Media in, say five years or so?


    1. Thanks Susan. Great question but impossible to answer – what I do know is that the time for leaders to dive in is now. Social Media is already becoming an incredibly crowded space and I worry about the leaders who are going to try and jump on in 2-3 years time….

      1. Hi Paul, I can’t think of a better way for our Leaders/Counselors/Fellow Citizens to communicate and more importantly coordinate in order to “Make good ideas happen” in communities across the land, than using Twitter? Or is there a better platform than Twitter??? If not then maybe it’s time to create something new & dynamic in order to do just that? I only joined Twitter 7 months ago and feel very behind, but it has already changed my life in real terms. I love ideas but struggle putting them into action. Really enjoyed reading your blog & its got me thinking!

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