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HMC NEWS: Leaders risk visibility and goodwill not being online, according to new leadership index

A new leadership index has found nearly half of CEOs in New Zealand have no public social media presence, putting them at risk of reduced visibility and connection with their brand’s audience.

The leadership index, released this month by media intelligence and insights company iSentia, was presented during an event on leadership run by Hamilton PR firm HMC Communications.

The event, part of HMC Communications’ Crucial Conversations over Lunch (CRUNCH) series, featured a panel discussion with some of Hamilton’s top leaders – Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Vanessa Williams, Palate owner and chef Mat McLean and Torpedo7 and Manta5 co-founder Guy Howard-Willis.

Head of Insights at iSentia, Ngaire Crawford, says the leadership index presented interesting results around the visibility of leaders online.

“Across Australia and New Zealand we found the majority of CEOs from top companies are invisible on social media - meaning they have no activity or followers on LinkedIn or Twitter, two of the main places where you would expect business leaders to be active.”

In Australia, 69% of top CEOs have no activity or followers on LinkedIn, compared to 44% of New Zealand’s top CEOs. Crawford says this lack of online visibility presented a challenges around audience connection.

“CEOs perceive a lot of risk associated with social media, particularly around information being taken out of context and audience misunderstanding, so the common default can be zero engagement in order to play it safe.

“But if social media is primarily where your customers are, as a CEO why would you not want them to have a direct relationship with you and your brand?”

iSentia’s index ranks CEOs from New Zealand’s top 50, and Australia’s top 100, businesses. Over a three-month period, the index  measured the CEOs’ public perception through media coverage,  social media engagement, their company’s financial performance gauged on year-on-year revenue growth, and employee approval ratings from anonymous employer review websites such as Glassdoor and Owler.

Crawford says the leadership index indicates the top-ranked CEOs have relatively high profiles as company spokespeople in the media and online, positive financial growth in their companies, and generally good approval ratings, such as top-ranked New Zealand CEOs Jayne Hrdlicka from A2 Milk and Steve Vamos from Xero.

Panelists at the event also shared their thoughts on leadership, saying successful leadership was often a result of transparency and honesty.

Manta5 and Torpedo7 co-founder Guy Howard-Willis says transparency of company progress is important to him as a leader.

“I regularly take my teams through our companies’ processes and numbers, where we’re heading, what is doing well and what isn’t. I think it’s important for staff to know exactly what is going on and the ‘why’ behind what we do.”

Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Vanessa Williams says she remembers what it was like being a “told employee” and didn’t want to repeat that with her own staff.

“As an employee, there’s nothing worse than not knowing what’s happening in your workplace or what management is trying to achieve,” she says.

“Giving your staff a greater understanding of why they do their jobs, and why their jobs are important to the wider company, is essential.”

Mat McLean, head chef and owner of award-winning restaurant Palate, says he’s learned a lot about leadership over the years he’s spent in some of the world’s best kitchens.

“I feel more responsibility now to share what I know with my staff and to help them with career development,” he says.

“I think it’s also important to share your vision with staff and enable them to buy in to what you’re doing because by doing that, they can become your company’s greatest ambassadors.”

For more information on iSentia’s leadership index visit

To find out more about HMC Communications’ CRUNCH series visit our CRUNCH page.