Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Lessons on leadership from Twitter


Last month I decided to take a new step in social networking and created a Twitter account. With help from a friend and a timely post about getting started, I jumped in. After reading “tweets” and “tweeting” for more than a month now, I have keyed in to a few interesting connections to leadership:

  • Product is key: In business, products are king. Companies with great products consistently beat their competitors. On Twitter, the product is you; what you write about, what you promote, what you share. The things you write demonstrate clearly who you are and what you believe. If you tweet passionately about about what drives you, others pick up on it and spread your value.
  • Followers are important: Most of my writing focuses on leading. One of the ways to measure leadership is by the number of followers. Twitter makes this transparent by showing the number of people following a given individual. A high number of followers reveals a leader. Since Twitter is new to many and not yet discovered by some, the number of followers can be deceiving. The key indicator is how fast their followership grows.
  • Leaders are followers: On a given person’s Twitter profile you can see three numbers: following, followers and updates. The first is the number of Twitterers that person is following; the second is the number he/she is following, and the third is the number of updates (or posts) the person has written. From my (albeit limited) experience, the people I consider leaders usually have less following them than they are following. However, the numbers are usually fairly close. This speaks volumes to the need every leader has to follow others. There’s something about the act of listening to and believing in things others promote that makes you a better leader.

While Twitter is by no means a perfect model for leadership, much can be learned about principles of human nature when people put their ideas out for the world to see. I still have a lot to learn about Twitter (and leadership for that matter) and will share more ideas as they emerge. Please leave a comment and share your ideas.

The Product Management Perspective: As product managers you know the product is key; the focus of product management is creating great products that people/businesses will want to buy. Remember that you, as the product manager, are also a product. This was first driven home to me in Fast Company article I read more than ten years ago. While you work to create the best products you can, take time out to increase your own product; it will create value for both you and your company.

3 thoughts on “Lessons on leadership from Twitter

  1. I guess you have a point about “leaders should follow more people on twitter.”

  2. @Dan I think it is an important point, and it’s more than just following people on Twitter. Leaders tune in to other sources from which they build their knowledge and improve their offerings.

    Thank you for the comment. -Michael

  3. Pingback: Product Management Weekly Reader: 15Jan09 | The Productologist: Exploring the Depths of Product Management

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