The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of online social networks in experiencing a change in working environment of today's leaders.
The study's participants were managers, directors and CEOs working in different organizations (including Fortune 500 companies) in the USA, the UK, Germany, France, Russian Federation, Australia and China. The data were collected through structured surveys delivered through LinkedIn to the managers, directors and CEOs. A total of 115 matched questionnaires were returned. Statistical analysis, using STATA software, was conducted to assess the research results.
The results indicate that the importance of online social networking environment is growing. Furthermore the study shows that online social networks are more useful for participative and consultative leadership style on social networking platforms than for directive leadership style. A higher number of activities on social networks by leaders is positively associated with the higher number of platforms used by leaders for business purposes. It is also correlated with a lower percentage of people from the same organization in the leader's contacts. Finally, the findings also show that the usefulness of online social networks as a tool supporting leadership, depends on the number of activities, number of platforms and size of the company. Surprisingly, age is not a predictor of the usefulness of online social networks.
Leaders that seek ways in which to foster their leadership, need to recognize the importance of online social networking environment and the possibilities of using online relations in various aspects of authentic and situational leadership.
This research provides knowledge regarding the usage of online social networks by many different leaders all over the world and suggests that a new generation of leaders will have to adjust to new working environment.
The author thanks Professor MikoŁaj Jan Piskorski, an Associate Professor from Harvard Business School for suggestions, comments and support while studying online social networks.
The author also thanks the INBAM conference organizers for the possibility of presenting the paper and getting feedback from reviewers and participants.
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