Twitter as a Leadership Tool

I was talking to a good friend the other day about Twitter. He knows that I believe it is important. Really important. Some of his clients are also beginning to ask questions about it. But he just didn’t get it.

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He finally blurted out, “It just seems like a huge waste of time. I don’t need one more inbox to check. I can barely keep up with what I have now.”

I said, “Buddy, you’re completely missing it.”

“Missing what?” he said, defensively.

“The potential.”

“What potential?” he asked emphatically.

“It’s not about what you get out of it,” I said. “It’s about the opportunity it affords you to give to others and make an impact.”

“Excuse me,” he muttered.

“Twitter is an opportunity for you to lead in a way that was not possible until now.” I explained.

“As you and I both teach, when you boil it down, leadership is influence. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” he acknowledged.

“Leadership is not about position, a title, or status. It is about influence. Plain and simple. I know you believe that, too, right?”


I continued, “If that’s true, then Twitter provides an unprecedented opportunity for people like us to extend and amplify our influence. You don’t have to buy time on television or radio. You don’t have to write a book or magazine column. You don’t even have to blog,” I went on.

“All you have to do is write short 140 character micro-posts about what you are doing or—more importantly—what has your attention right now.”

I could almost hear his brain shift into a different gear. “You and I both know that people today crave leadership. They are dying for role models. They want to see what good leadership looks like—as it is lived out in the challenges of everyday life.”

I continued, “If you are living your life on-purpose, like I know you are, then by Twittering, you are modeling something worth emulating. This is unquestionably the most powerful way to lead.”

“Hmm.” I could hear the flicker of possibility in his voice. I knew this was resonating with him. But then he countered, “But you just can’t lead by Twittering.”

“I agree. I am not suggesting that you can. It is simply one tool in your leadership toolbox—but a very powerful one. Twitter is like an influence amplifier. It enables you to extend your influence in ways never before possible.”

We continued to chat about this for several more minutes. He finally said, “Wow! Maybe there’s more to Twitter than I thought. How do I get started.”

Question: Do you think Twitter is an effective leadership tool? How are you using it to lead?
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  • ParsonBoots

    Are we confusing “followers” with “people I influence”?  I would recommend you do a survey of those following you on twitter and ask them, “How many leaders do you follow on Twitter?”  I would guess the number is fairly high.  I find that in my own life I get inspiration overload numbness when it’s just one tweet after another, no matter how great the tweets are.  When that’s the case Twitter becomes an end in itself and I’m not really leading anyone in particular to do something specific, but am inspiring the vague masses to do something in general.  That just doesn’t sound like disciple-making to me.

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  • Dawn Herring

    As host of #JournalChat Live on Twitter (which is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST for all things journaling), I have experienced the potential of sharing the benefits of journal writing and sharing information from that field of self-care. When used in a purposeful manner, you can use Twitter to create a positive place to share information that’s relevant and meaningful.

  • Matt Ham

    I think Twitter provides an exceptional opportunity for folks to engage another’s platform and it gives me unique accessibility to NYT Best Selling authors like yourself. Like you said above, it is an amazing tool for influence in BOTH directions. However, for the new guy, it seems to be an uphill climb. The occasional retweet along with conversations here and there energize, but when I track my site referrals, Twitter is seemingly non-existent. I feel like tweets get lost in the endless feed machine.
    My question is, it is a function of time? I just ‘really’ joined Twitter about 3 months ago after reading ‘Start’ and ‘Platform’ once I began writing. I wouldn’t certainly expect 4 figure or 5 figure followers immediately, but just curious. My gut (spirit) tells me to just keep plugging along, my brain (flesh) tells me to quit wasting my time. Thanks!

  • John Meese

    This is great. This and your other posts about Twitter were what made me decide to start using the platform regularly a few months ago. I’d had one for a long time, but never used it. I’m loving the experience now! Thanks again.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, John. I’m glad it got you going.

  • DawnHerring

    I think Twitter is an awesome tool to be in touch with those who are in your area of influence or who can benefit from your life experience in some way. I think one of the ways Twitter is a great tool for influence is through public chats. That’s where I connected with many friends there when I first got onto Twitter in 2009. I’ve hosted a live chat, #JournalChat Live, for almost 3 years, now on Sundays, 4 EST/1 PST. We have a wonderful group of folks who have a journaling practice and it’s a great way to connect!

    I appreciate what you shared here and I agree.
    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

  • Vonnie Hudson

    I never consider Twitter as a leadership tool, always thought about it in terms of what I could get out of it (i.e. More followers), not what I could give. Thanks for the paradigm shift

  • Darlene Pawlik

    Changing the world, one small ripple at a time.

  • Don

    Twitter feels to me like a room full of people randomly blurting out what they hope to be pithy soundbites and hoping someone is listening. For me, it’s an ADD nightmare. Apparently, it works for some.

  • Don

    Ha! I just noticed the date of the last comment. I appear to be a bit late to the game. ;)

  • Ryan Biddulph

    It’s a fab tool Michael, tremendous for reaching so many people, connecting and listening to them.