When senior military leaders aren't yelling out their office windows for soldiers to stop walking on the grass, they should probably be checking out what they're talking about on social media platforms, according to the top Army general in charge of forces in South Korea.
In a post for On The Green Notebook, a military blog focused on leadership development, Gen. Robert B. Abrams writes that "being engaged on social media is becoming more of an imperative by the day," before listing 10 reasons why others need to get on board.
Abrams, 58, puts his money where his mouth is: He shares his thoughts and interacts directly with his nearly 10,000 followers from his @DogFaceSoldier Twitter account regularly, and thinks other leaders need to get on board since, like it or not, social media is here to stay, and young troops are using it more often to stay in the loop and talk about what's important to them.
For leaders, Abrams says, social media can help you become better connected to what's happening in the news and with the DoD — not just what's happening in your branch of service. He also mentions how distant and insulated you become the more senior you are, but that distance can be considerably cut down sometimes by seeing what the kids are talking about on the Gram.
"Social media gives us the opportunity to hear directly from our service members about what is bothering them, or the challenges facing them and their families," Abrams writes. "It is not always glamorous – not unlike reading the inside of a porta-potty at NTC – but the majority of the time, you will get unfiltered, grassroots feedback, and that is something we can all benefit from."
As you can imagine, troops aren't always going to tell a general visiting the base for an hour what's really on their mind, but they will often say what's on their mind in public social media posts. "Your subordinates are all over social media," he writes. "As such, these platforms provide another venue for them to have access to you – think virtual open door policy. After establishing credibility, you might even get the chance to actually help people."