Leadership is a Discussion

One thing that I keep reminding myself of is a comment Jim Kouzes made in the Open Leadership discussion I attended a few weeks back. He said, "...leadership is a discussion; that is why social media is so important".  You can't lead others without talking, listening responding. This statement seems to be the answer to many questions people have been asking me lately.

The other day a coworker was asking me, why I love twitter so much. I asked her if she remembered what it was like to send her first email (she did). Take that exciting feeling of using a new technology, a new way to communicate with someone and you have twitter. Never before have I been able to communicate with NFL players, my favorite actors, and people like Jim Kouzes without a multi-step process that would probably end up with me being disappointed. Now, they actually talk to me! I am a better follower, in this instance, because they are directly communicating with me. The people that I highly respect that are normally out of reach are having discussions with me! They are making me feel special and connected because they are taking time out of their day to send me something in 140 characters.

So, why do people still only have one way communication with their accounts when there can be such a great return on their tweets? This is actually starting to turn into a pet peeve of mine because so much can be accomplished by talking to someone with twitter.

An example: A few weeks ago, I was searching for people who talk about leadership. I found and followed a few accounts. One leadership consultant posted a tweet that asked people to fill out a survey for his new book about leadership. I was interested so I clicked over. The first questions asks if you are a leader or not. Point blank. Based on the tweets of this person, I think the question he was asking was, "Are you a CEO?" assuming that because you are a CEO you are a leader and if you are not a CEO you are not a leader. I asked for clarification to twitter. A month later, no response. Outside of completely disagreeing with the premise of the question, I really expected a response from the person! Now, they are down a follower. I want to chat with people. I want to know why you are different and special.

Another example is something that happened yesterday. One person I follow tweeted about a sale at one of my favorite stores. I then preceded to purchase a few items from the sale and my friend and I tweeted back and forth a bit about it; at one point I called her a bad influence. I wasn't expecting the store to respond, at all, even though we included them in several tweets. Then:

How awesome is it that the store responded? They did have to. We were just having a conversation about them in a positive manner i.e. we both got great deals online at a sale that we were reminded about through twitter. 

Leaders can really take advantage of this. They can help develop their followers and find new ones. They can aid other leaders and connect people together. It is exactly what others are looking for! Plus, we are impressed and excited when you respond; which, in the long run, creates a more dedicated follower.