Several years ago I was running for election to an office in my organization. I had done the previous two positions well, receiving accolades from our organization. I was essentially a shoe in until the interview process. I had prepared diligently by creating a vision and mission statement, a strategic plan, and had formed a team to not only meet but plan to exceed our goals for the year. I even wore a dress to the interview which for me a 100 pounds ago was a big deal. I was ready. Well, until the very first question I received from the panel was about something I posted on Facebook.
The general tone of the post was "Sometimes it is better to say nothing then to say anything." I could not at the time nor can I now recall what it was in reference to. In that moment, I was pretty ticked off. These people (some of whom were friends and have not been since) were using my own words against me. It had nothing to do with the role I was interviewing for. I never mentioned anyone, anything, or any situation. I simply made a statement. I still feel like it was a complete violation of me as a person. It was personal because the remainder of the questions were personal - how was going to handle my emotions, how did I think people perceived me, how was going to treat past leaders, and more. Not one question about goals, plans, or strategy. It was hurtful but I learned so much and it taught me something - everything on Facebook does not just stay on Facebook.
The committee that interviewed me did not recommend me for the role. Not having that stamp of approval made me want to prove them wrong and it made me a better leader in the end. I was able to evaluate my leadership style and change as a leader. I was better for it. I also made it clear to my team that there would be no payback to the members of that committee. If they were on committees or had roles, they would not be fired. But I did reserve the right to not ask them to be a part of my team. I knew that retribution was not going to send a good message to our members.
I am not a perfect leader. I do not want to be one. I made tons of mistakes my leadership year. I came to realize I will never change the minds of the people who do not like me. And that is OK with me. I was able to watch my team achieve so much in that year. We not only met but exceeded our goals. We were rewarded with accolades.
I still post stuff on Facebook that I probably shouldn't. One of the benefits of being a past leader I guess. I want other leaders out there to take a moment and pause before posting. Do your posts reflect who you are and how you want to be seen? Will this post come back and bite me on the ass? Do I care what other people think enough to change my post? Am I passionate enough about the topic to stand behind what i am writing? Facebook almost cost me one of my greatest successes. Make sure it doesn't come close to doing that for you.