When was the last time you spoke to your CEO?

Last week? Last year?

For lots of employees, the answer is actually ‘never’.

They know their CEO’s name and their job title.

They think they know what they’re supposed to represent. The values they’re supposed to be championing. And what they do.

But most employees don’t know their CEOs at all.

They may have never met them.

You often hear snippets like these in a organisation:

‘Watch out – I’ve heard the CEO might be coming in today.’

‘Her? I think she’s the CEO. I’m not sure. She looks a bit like the picture.’

‘That’s the CEO – but you can’t just walk up and introduce yourself.’

Sound familiar?

I wish it didn’t.

When we think of the head of a company, there’s an out-dated stereotype that some employees can’t seem to shake off:

The mysterious visitor. The executive on a pedestal. A person to fear.

But if you’re a CEO, I’ve got news for you:

People don’t want an elusive leader, untouchable and hidden away.

They want to see and hear the people at the top.

They want to talk to them – not just about them.

They want to hear what’s happening from the people steering the ship, and they want a chance to respond with their opinions, suggestions and insight.

They want a human.

Not some static corporate figurehead.

And sadly, this just isn’t happening enough.

There’s a lot of distance in today’s workforce.

With business getting bigger, we’ve got a physical separation between offices, departments, countries and continents.

It’s making it harder to stay connected and united.

More than ever, we need our CEOs to open the lines of communication.

We need them to lead by example – to be approachable, responsive, and actively involved in every level of the company.

So how should they do that?

An all-hands meeting once a year? That won’t cut it.

A one-way newsletter or company-wide email isn’t enough.

And a flying visit to each office for a meeting behind closed doors isn’t making a connection – and neither is the Braveheart speech full of rhetoric at a company event that doesn’t give the workforce a voice.

If you want to give your people the direct, real, and human connection they want to have with their CEO, you need a channel where everyone has a voice.

That’s exactly what enterprise social networks, like Workplace by Facebook, are doing for companies all over the world.

There’s a new breed of social CEOs who are using their companies’ internal networks to become more visible.

They’re using them to be more approachable.

They’re commending good work when they see it, they’re sharing the company’s news as it happens, and they’re responding to the worries and concerns of their employees in real-time.

But more importantly, there’s also a new breed of workforce using these networks in exactly the same way.

They’re putting their opinions and suggestions right in front of the people leading them.

They’re getting a response straight from the CEO, and they’re able to respond right back.

Feedback flowing both ways.

When you give your employees a voice, the whole company becomes more engaged – and the business thrives because of it.

Because being a leader isn’t about your height in the hierarchy:

It’s about being truly visible and engaged with what’s going on.

It’s about guiding and inspiring people to help everyone reach the same goal.

And that means it’s time for CEO’s to get social…