AuthorPaus, Viorica
  1. Introduction

    Leadership should not be strictly associated with multinational corporations and it should not exclusively refer to the employer-employee relationship. Mayors are a special category of leaders. Besides their internal communication within the city or town halls, they are elected by citizens and thus they should build solid relationships with the inhabitants as well.

    In this paper leadership will be linked to mayors and the main purpose is to identify the online leadership strategies used in their effort to communicate with citizens-voters. New media has become a significant tool for shaping a new kind of leadership associated with open and dialogic communication which facilitates both the visibility of the leader's vision and the practicing of a shared collective leadership (Tapscott, 1996).

  2. Leadership and management--an inclusive relationship

    Leadership means to accomplish things and to solve problems through people, to achieve goals or to carry out work tasks with the help of a team or a group. Leadership may be defined as 'a process of mobilizing, encouraging and engaging persons so that they may contribute to achieving the desired goals' (Prodan, 1999, p. 84). A leader's success depends highly on his/her ability to share his/her vision, enthusiasm and the meaning of his/her intentions with his/her team. Unlike a leader, a manager is a person who 'does things as they should be done. To manage means to lead others' work and to be responsible for the results' (Hellriegel, Slocum and Woodman, 1992, p. 296).

    The very concepts of management and leadership constitute the main difference between a manager and a leader. In his book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis (2009, p. 42) provides a list of differences between a leader and a manager (Table 1):

    Table 1: The differences between a leader and a manager The leader innovates. The manager administers. The leader is an original. The manager is a copy. The leader develops. The manager maintains. The leader focuses on people. The manager focuses on systems and structure. The leader inspires trust. The manager relies on control. The leader has a long-range The manager has a short-range perspective. view. The leader asks what and why. The manager asks how and when. The leader's eye is on the horizon. The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line. The leader originates. The manager imitates. The leader challenges it. The manager accepts the status quo. The leader is his or her own The manager is the classic good person. soldier. The leader does the right thing. The manager does things right. Source: Bennis, 2009. Although a manager's job is to plan, organize and coordinate and a leader's job is to inspire and motivate, Bennis (2009) considers that management and leadership go hand in hand, being complementary. This inclusive relationship between the two concepts highlights that a discussion about leaders should be linked to their qualities as managers. Managers are professionals specialized in carrying out managerial activities, in influencing the activities of other people and in obtaining results through their activities. At the same time, managers should possess a thorough scientific managerial upbringing, a true capacity to lead and organizing talent. Leadership reflects the manager's human dimension which may determine the group to work together to fulfill the organizational goals. Organizations have started to shift towards a new type of leader, a charismatic, transformational, open to change and interpersonal communication type of leader. In order to maintain an up-to-date vision, a leader should make sense of his/her organization, respect and take care of his/her employees. He or she should promote a set of transparent values and show integrity. One of his/her most significant qualities is his/her ability to achieve the management of change, a goal which is more and more important within the present complex context where everybody strives to remain competitive.

    This brief insight into the complementary relationship between management and leadership highlights that leadership and influence are synonymous (Tellier, 1999, p. 126; Tannenbaum, Weschler and Massarik apud Zlate, 2004). In this perspective, we start from the principle that in any group (regardless of structure or number) individuals interact in pursuit of a common goal, referring to public or private interests, shaped or diffused. Leadership is designated as the interface between the leader and his followers' staff as 'interpersonal influence that a manager exerts on subordinates in the establishment and in particular the achievement of the objectives' (Nicolescu and Verboncu, 1999, p. 514).

  3. Leadership and the online communication of city/town halls

    The development of new technology plays an important role in developing leadership as 'an interpersonal influence exercised in a defined and directed situation, through the communication process, to achieve a defined goal or goals' (Tannenbaum, Weschler and Massari apud Zlate, 2004, p. 23). In the last two decades, new technologies have provided and continue to provide tools for a more complex and diversified power and influence. The modern notion of leadership can not ignore the functioning of formal and informal groups and inter--and intra-group interaction. The most important change was from unidirectional communication to a bilateral type of communication based on dialogue. As Kent and Taylor (2002) postulated, the Internet should be used to its fullest potential--dialogically--to create relationships with group/community members. Leadership should focus on this online dialogue as an orientation because it will reveal features such as trust, empathy, mutual orientation and commitment. The dialogic website is the proper means of building relationships via the Web. The two authors mention that such a dialogic website should focus on five principles: (a) to create a dialogic loop (a two-way communication); (b) to provide useful information; (c) to generate return visits of the group/community members; (d) to provide an easy-to-use interface; (e) to conserve visitors (Kent and Taylor, 2002).

    The main quality of this new type of leader who tries to build a dialogic relationship will be the orientation towards excellence. The hierarchy is less stratified and the leadership is focused on feedback. Charlene Li (2010) talks about 'openness, transparency and authenticity' as the fundamental precepts of online leadership. As the author said, the opening relies more on rigor and effort than on the control. Using online media, leaders transform their organizations so that they become more efficient and more powerful, while being profitable in an open market economy. It ensures communication and social media connectivity and leads to a shared communication (a culture of sharing).

    In 1993, Castells talked about the development of 'an informational city'. The productivity and competitiveness of such cities are determined by their ability to combine informational capacity, quality of life with connectivity to the network of other major institutions at the national and international levels. The literature on how city halls (as public institutions) utilize information technologies to serve constituents and communicate with the public focuses on three main strands:

    1. the societal functions that municipal websites may perform to define themselves as part of the social system in an information age. Starting from the four mass communication functions (surveillance, coordination, socialization, and entertainment), Jeffres and Lin (2006) showed in their study of the official websites of core cities in the 50 largest US metropolitan areas that information surveillance was the most important function, followed by interaction coordination services.

    2. the city council websites as a means of place brand identity communication. In their study on the place branding characteristics of New Zealand's City Council websites, Florek, Insch, and Gnoth (2006) develop a conceptual framework formed of three tools of place brand identity communications: place brand design, place brand behavior and place brand communication. The results of the content analysis of New Zealand's 16 City Council websites show that brand communication items were represented the most frequently whereas brand design items were the most diverse.

    3. the official websites as a tool of anti-corruption. Roncak's analysis (2008) on Slovak websites as anti-corruption tools showed that municipalities did not use all the possibilities that official websites (electronic version of official desk or minutes from sessions of municipal councils, etc.) may offer to be more transparent and that they did not perceive their websites as anti-corruption tools.

    In Romania, the studies on the online communication of municipalities also focus on the role of the PR departments' degree of transparency and on the interaction between public institutions and citizens. Stefan (2007) used the WebQEM method to analyze the quality of web sites of all the city halls in the seven Romanian development regions. The degree in which the official websites meet the citizens' needs was analyzed according to four categories: the identification of quality items, elementary evaluation, global evaluation, and the interpretation of results. Constanta, Oradea and Sibiu were the first three Romanian city halls which offered the possibility to participate and interact, thus developing the civic spirit. The findings suggested that there was not a direct correlation between the points obtained by the first three city halls and the development regions to which they belong. Although Constanta had the highest number of quality points, the South-Eastern region was on the last place. Sabau's study (2009) focused on the development of e-government and the usability of the local institutions' websites in Romania. Starting from...

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