Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Media Savvy and the Implications for Business Leadership in the 21st Century

The Disease Management Care Blog continues to be beguiled by Meghan McCain, and not just because she could be a good match for one of the DMCB's unmarried spawn. Ms. McCain's career may hold some early lessons in the coming style of 21st century leadership.

Way off topic for the health industry-oriented DMCB? 

Not quite.  It explains below.

As the DMCB understands it, the very blond daughter of Arizona Senator John McCain has a reputation for a liberal style of nontraditional Republicanism. That, combined with her namesake's political and media connections, has undoubtedly (and perhaps unfairly) catapulted her into the national spotlight.  She could have faded away along with her dad's presidential ambitions, but she now has a web-TV gig that is a curious mix of 50% reality show (e.g., the travails of hanging taxidermy), 50% social commentary (e.g., her generation's lackadaisical views on privacy) and 50% chatty self-promotion.

That's not the point.  What is the point is that 20th century old-fashioned (in politics, think Ronald Reagan or in business, Jack Welch) leadership skills were honed by decades of practice practice practice in the written word, public speaking and retail networking. Once they mastered that, their formidable communication skills helped propel these very talented men into their very successful careers.

We don't know where Ms. McCain's career trajectory will take her, and it's very possible that she could ultimately fade away. The DMCB bets not. While her current views and public persona can come across as naïve and unpolished, this young woman is likewise practicing practicing practicing to master a newly emerging 21st century style of leadership that will rely on the broadcast word, media savvy and web-based networking.  By the time she is in her 50s, decades of experience combined with her other skills on both sides of the lens could make turn a diamond in the rough into a formidable force in business or politics or both.

Which brings the DMCB back to the business and politics of health care.

This has important implications for health industry leadership, including population health management. Simply avoiding the social media is no longer a formula for success. Smart hospital administrators are also mastering blogging to mitigate threats. Bad moments captured on YouTube can make health industry leaders look bad.  Branding without Twitter is now like personal injury attorneys without contingency fees. Boards of Directors can't ignore the threat of adverse media relations like this in their enterprise risk management.

And who will be best positioned in the coming decades to lead health care companies through these challenges?  Smart CEOs and executives who have a deep familiarity with leveraging TV and social media - thanks to decades of personal experience -  to engage their constituents and customers to choose their products and services instead of their competitors'.   And if they go into politics, they'll be leveraging the same social media skill-set to get voters choose their ideas and to vote for them.

You go gurl!

Image from Wikipedia  

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