We’re delighted to feature our interview with Cheryl Snapp Conner!
Cheryl Snapp Conner is a smart and entrepreneurial woman who has a superb ability to harness whatever is coming over the horizon to benefit her own company and that of her clients.
I regularly share Cheryl’s Forbes articles because they are informative, interesting and tackle up to the minute issues we should be aware of. Any leader has to manage their reputation and in this themed issue of leading a team, I wanted to get the PR viewpoint which will help Leaders think about the impact they are making via their team. I am delighted Cheryl agreed to be interviewed and I hope you enjoy it too!
This month our theme is all about the challenge of leading a team. ~What would you say is the major challenge for a leader of a team?
I would say that leading a team is one of the greatest challenges of all. It’s far easier to be an individual contributor—even as hard as that is—than to motivate a team and keep them cohesively working and acting as one. I have done both, sometimes intermittently and sometimes together, throughout my career, and I would have to say that even at this point, serving as an effective leader is that thing that challenges me most.
With the growth of Social Media over the last 10 years, team players have far greater power to either negatively or positively impact a business. In your experience, do you think leaders are mindful of this? What should they be doing?
I think leaders are extremely mindful of this, but instead of being excited by that fact, it still scares them to death. Leaders tend to do nothing, or to come out with “all or nothing policies” that attempt to forbid their people from using social media at work (which backfires), or they pay a mountain of money to the wrong people for all the wrong things. Instead, they should embrace social media. Get champions in the house who can get their people trained and acting within guide rails for their social media use, and if they can do this, everyone benefits. It’s called Employee Advocacy and it’s one of the most exciting new arenas in social media today. I predict we’ll all be seeing much more of it in the coming seasons.
CEOs are correct, however, in surmising the fact that bad use of social media can pose a significant reputational risk. For example, when entertainment company HMV failed to secure its Twitter account before laying off 60 people, one of the employees hacked the account and posted highly damaging information that went viral before the executives were successful in locking the security back down. This kind of episode is happening with increasing frequency. Likewise, leaders need to remember that in many respects their personal brand and their professional image are one and the same. CNN recently reported on the reputational hit one executive—hailed as an award-winning communicator—suffered when she let her temper get the better of her in a letter to a young executive who’d reached out to her in a LinkedIn connection request. Other examples are rampant—the CEO who openly admits on his FaceBook page to smoking pot in all locations, legal or not, or the Australian CEO who was actually removed from his position after posting bigoted remarks on his personal social media pages. These mistakes fall under the category of “don’t be stupid” – but increasingly, CEOs need to remember that someone is always watching and their personal decisions affect their companies and professional reputations as well.
What is the single biggest piece of advice you would give to a leader of a team?
I would give the advice that you should hone that leadership skill as one of your most important deliverables. Don’t give it short shrift. This is one of the lessons I learned the hard way – thinking leadership development is an expensive luxury that takes up valuable minutes and hours where actual work could get done. Boy was I mistaken.
You’ve had a fantastic career in PR, and communication. To date, what has been the highlight for you? What situation or achievement has given you the biggest buzz?
The highlight for me is getting an increasing number of opportunities to participate right in the middle of the shifting landscape. Digital media is a wild new world, and I love being in the middle of the cyclone and even getting the chance to light some of the dynamite as opposed to analyzing and advising from the sidelines. I had an article go mega-viral, beyond anyone’s predictions; this last year that secured more than 9 1/2 million reads and garnered a whole lot of media attention. Observing that experience first-hand, for better and for worse, was priceless.
You’re a real leader in your field and an inspiration, what do you think the next few years are going to bring for you?
I am hard at work on helping my company grow to its next tier as a scalable company, for my own benefit but also for the benefit and growth of the partners I’ve brought up with me. A scalable model is yet another hurdle to climb, but I’m very excited about it.
How can our readers’ best benefit from the great experience and insights you have to offer?
You can follow my columns! I write most fully on Forbes.com and you can follow me there, under the masthead Cheryl Conner. You can also subscribe to our newsletter through my company website, SnappConner.com. The newsletter is the Snappington Post and it comes out bi-weekly with tips and ideas for communicators. It’s free.
How can readers’ best connect with you?
You can connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter or respond to the columns I write. I’m pretty easy to find.
Cheryl Snapp Conner is an entrepreneur and communications expert, based in Salt Lake City. She is the founder and managing partner of Snapp Conner PR and has more than 26 years’ experience in public relations for individuals and organizations ranging from growth and start-up organizations to Fortune 500 technology firms.
Conner has led four successful PR agencies since 1989 and has been recognized as one of Utah’s 30 Women to Watch. She is a frequent author and speaker on Business communication and is a popular columnist for Forbes.com