Leadership Lessons: Transitions and Vulnerability

Presidents as digital champions

June 16, 2016
Santa Ono is the new president of the University of British Columbia

It all started on November 3, 2010. That was the day when Santa Ono sent out his first tweet. It was an invitation for an event at the University of Cincinnati where Ono was then serving as provost.

In 2012, Ono became the president of the university. And that's when he took his engagement activities on Twitter to a whole new level. He didn't just broadcast content, he responded to comments, and used Twitter as a springboard for connection and community.

Ono quickly became a shining example of how a senior leader at a university could use social media for engagement.

Fast forward to the start of this week and Ono confirmed (via Twitter) what had previously been reported by IHE that he was moving on to a new position:

Four minutes before Ono's departure tweet, The University of British Columbia welcomed him back to Vancouver as their new president:

Interestingly, Ono seems to have retired his "PrezOno" account and is now tweeting at "ubcprez":

It's easy to highlight Ono's use of social media as a university president who "gets it." However, one of his leadership qualities that should always be mentioned is his openness to being vulnerable in digital spaces. Last month, in a tweet about mental illness, Ono shared that he had twice attempted suicide:

It wasn't the first time that Ono has disclosed his struggles with depression:

We need more university leaders who are willing to be vulnerable on social media. Ono isn't just a leader on social media. He is a role-model who is showing us all what it means to lead with vulnerability.

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