For leaders that are looking to improve themselves as they aspire to greatness, there is a wealth of learning opportunities to be found in the world of Social Media. I can say this with confidence, because my decision to jump into Social Media headfirst back in 2005 has played an important role in my personal development as a leader -nearly as important as the direct leadership experience itself.
Here are 9 ways Social Media has helped me, and can help you too:
1. Blogging about leadership organizes and crystallizes your thoughts – When I started writing about leadership on my blog back in 2006, I was surprised at how the act of putting things “on paper” was so effective at taking the concepts in your head, organizing them, and converting them into quicker action.
2. Reading other leadership blogs adds to your knowledge base – Once I figured out there was a treasure trove of leadership advice and observations in the blogosphere, I started to add hundreds of blogs onto my regular reading list. Nowadays that list has been reduced due to time constraints, but if you wanted to get a head start on finding the best ones, check out this list by Mike Myatt, and this one by Jurgen on Noop.nl.
3. Social Media is a great place to road test your ideas – This is where Social Media really shines, because of its ability to provide instant feedback. I have road tested concepts many times on my blog and on Twitter, and the feedback from readers has been invaluable.
4. Talking about leadership with other leaders helps to shape your vision– Getting involved in Social Media has exponentially expanded the number of leaders I have regular conversations with, both online and off. And the more productive conversations I have, the more my leadership vision gets adjusted, molded, and shaped into a cohesive whole.
5. You get to talk to (and learn from) leadership gurus and rock stars – If it wasn’t for my active involvement in Twitter, I never would have had a chance to interact with some of my long-time leadership mentors. I was so pleased to discover that these folks are often approachable, receptive, and helpful. A great example is Tom Peters. I’ve been reading his stuff for almost 30 years, and recently we’ve had a few exchanges that were extremely helpful (thank you Tom!).
6. Being an active participant in the medium keeps you up-to-date and in the loop – Having been so involved in Social Media, I can make the rounds with all my teammates and peers at my company and feel comfortable when the subject comes up in conversation, or when internal discussions take place about how Social Media tools should be used (or not) in the workplace.
7. Personally monitoring the thoughts and comments of your customers is a big advantage – Since I know how to use Twitter searches, and Google searches, and all the other important search tools to personally read (and react to) what my company’s customers are saying, I can get a big leg up on trends and issues I need to address as a leader. I don’t need to rely on others to do this for me.
8. Social Media gets you more opportunities to lead– Because I became so involved in this medium, I was able to expand my leadership activities to other projects, (a great example is my involvement with SOBCon, which never would have happened if I hadn’t been an active blogger), and consequently have opportunities to speak publicly about leadership.
9. There is no better way to work on your communication skills – Between nearly 700 blog posts, nearly 11,000 Tweets, more blog comments than I can count, and all the personal interactions that I’ve had over the past 5 years in my Social Media circles, there is no question that I have become a better communicator. And that’s what great leadership is all about. Remember, practice makes perfect, and Social Media is the perfect place to practice.