Can Twitter Help to Develop Leadership Skills?

I haven’t had my Twitter account for long (less than a week) but I have already been struck by how much discipline it takes to be a good “Twitterette”, almost as much as it takes to be a good leader. And of course, the word ‘Follower’ got me thinking. If you are following, then surely someone must be leading? And what will you do with your Followers? Where will you lead them to?

I’m always thinking about how to connect different people, my different interests and so, it intrigues me how this new found tool (I know, I’m a bit of a late e-developer) can be connected to leadership. Here are some of my thoughts:

Anyone can lead. They just have to want to.
Twitter is useful if you want to lead the way but it is also used to see what others can offer. So if you want to gather 10,000 Followers, I’m sure you can, but you really have to want to. ‘Leadership’ seems such a grand word, but many of the leader’s responsibilities can be taken on by anyone to make their life (and those of others’) better. Enabling, supporting, advocating, negotiating – what might differentiate a natural leader is a passion for getting things done; a need to work with others and, I will go as far as to day, a desire to work for the greater good. In the end, to become a leader (by nature if not always by title), one has to want to lead.

You don’t need to be present constantly.
You might tweet every day. Every hour, every second. But does that make you a more attractive Tweeterer (I’m searching for a word that means “person who uses twitter to talk to others”). Surely the quality of the message, its tune, its relevance, the information it conveys (or points us towards) are more important?
I’ve come across many people in charge who feel they constantly have to be present – physically, with their opinions, with their approval. You don’t need to. Let others get on with it and only intervene when it’s necessary or you really have something valuable to contribute.

Twitter connects you to the outside world.
Far from keeping people stuck in their heads and their computers, Twitter, like most social media, has the ability to keep you up to date on what’s going on way beyond the four walls of your house, office or industry. The most interesting Twitters (I keep trying) have a range of interests and are fast to respond to the latest news.
Those in a position of driving business forward need to know what’s going on around them, not only because they might directly affect their business but because you never know where inspiration might come from next.

Find the joy in following.
There is no point in using Twitter if you don’t follow anyone else – that is why through your homepage you can view both your followers and those you follow.
Leaders can become so overwhelmed by (or engrossed in) the idea of ‘leading’ that they forget there are many reasons to follow – for to follow, you must listen. Listen to your own ‘followers’, they will always have something interesting to say; listen to those you can learn from; listen to your peers. Be ready to follow and it will never get lonely at the top.

You have to deal with the dark side.
I thought Twitter was a big happy family of Twitterers and Twitterettes but, being spammed two seconds after opening my account, I was reminded that things are not always so easy. What did I do?

First I panicked and thought – I knew this was a bad idea, I’m closing down my account! But then, I remembered to breathe (always a good idea) and thought: well, surely I’m not the first one to be spammed. Someone else will have the answers. I reached out, dealt with it and moved on.
Life is not always easy and so it’s important to know when you have and haven’t got control to make things better (for you, your team, your organisation).

So, there you go, not bad for someone who deep down has a problem with the words ‘leader’ and ‘follower’. Whatever you think of Twitter, it’s certainly a tool when anyone can champion their own cause.

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